The definitive life of Chekhov which allows us finally to understand the personality of this great dramatist – and the influences at work on his writing.
There have been many biographies of Anton Chekhov before – but this is the first to tell the story of his life as fully as we now realize is possible. Donald Rayfield has spent over five years combing through the extensive Chekhov archives all over Russia, uncovering thousands of documents and letters that have never been seen – from lovers, friends and family. These tell of a life far more entangled and turbulent than ever previously suspected.
Chekhov’s life was one long battle with his dependants and with the tuberculosis that was to kill him at 44. This biography strips the whitewash from the image of Chekhov. The result is not to denigrate him, but to show him in the full heroism of his short and prodigiously creative life – at times made hell by a monstrous father, possessive sister and delinquent elder brothers.
The drama of Chekhov’s life has an extraordinarily rich cast of characters, and took him all over Russia and the world. This biography is a vivid portrait of Russia and Russian society a hundred years ago, as well as an investigation of the emotions and conflicts and experiences which Chekhov transmuted into his stories and plays.
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A noted scholar of the works of Anton Chekhov now turns to his life (1860-1904), with equally revelatory results. Rayfield's densely documented account avoids general statements in favour of quiet accumulation of detail that gradually creates a multifaceted impression of Chekhov's contradictions. Witty, charming, and an ardent lover of women, Russia's greatest dramatist was also coolly detached, prone to capriciousness and capable of considerable cruelty. In Anton Chekhov, Rayfield does not attempt to tidy up a messily complex psyche or to downplay the faults that were as intrinsic to Chekhov's genius as were his merits.From the Back Cover:
Donald Rayfield's biography strips the whitewash from the traditional image of Chekhov and shows us what lay behind his restrained, ironic facade. Rayfield has spent over five years combing the Chekhov archives all over Russia, uncovering thousands of documents and letters from lovers, friends and family, most never published before, which tell of a life far more entangled and turbulent than we ever previously suspected. He gives us a Chekhov embroiled with family, friends and a myriad of lovers all of whom challenged his autonomy as an artist, his space to write and his health, while drawing him into their lives so intensely that they enriched his own imagination. It is an exemplary life of the writer who transformed the nature of modern theatre.
"It is hard to imagine another book about Chekhov after this one…For many playwrights Chekhov is revered, perhaps because he found a means to tell the truth about people in so balanced and sympathetic a way that one is moved to laughter and tears at the same time. This book wonderfully preserves that peculiarly tender and difficult balance…The mystery of creativity is respected in this fine biography of one of a handful of truly creative spirits in our history."
ARTHUR MILLER, 'Sunday Times'
"Rayfield, a Chekhov expert since the 1970s, is the first British biographer to have access to the full editions and letters which were expurgated by the Soviet authorities and he has uncovered a magnificent amount of new materials…This enthralling biography gives us a sense of the physical reality of the man and of his inner life, of the lonely process of composition and the vivid bustle of stage and performance. It is a marvellous achievement."
JACKIE WULLSCHLAGER, 'Financial Times'
"Rarely can there have been such a close and well-documented picture of a well-known figure as in this marvellous biography…Rayfield's biography strips Chekhov of the sanctified aura promoted after his death in Russian and Soviet scholarship and shows instead what a frank and earthy man he was…Here is a study which, as an outstanding example of western scholarship, deserves to be translated into Russian."
JULIE CURTIS, 'Thes'
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Book Description Flamingo 03/08/1998, 1998. Book Condition: used-good. - GREAT BOOK IN GOOD OR BETTER CONDITION, NORMALLY SENT SAME DAY FROM WAREHOUSE. Bookseller Inventory # 7719-9780006547679
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Book Description London: Flamingo, 1998., 1998. Soft cover. Book Condition: Good. Paperback book in good condition. General wear to edges of covers with minor bumps to corners. Book very slightly rolled. Some marks to fore-edge of text block. Pages tanned. 12mo. 674pp. Bookseller Inventory # 18007
Book Description Flamingo, 1998. Soft cover. Book Condition: Very Good. Unblemished Apart From Name On Inside Front Wrappers. Bookseller Inventory # 019147-03
Book Description Flamingo, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. Very good. Bookseller Inventory # HH-225-27-9665009