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    Anton Chekhov

    Russian dramatist & short story author
    11 Favorites on Read Print


    Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (January 29, 1860 – July 15, 1904) was a Russian short-story writer, playwright and physician, considered to be one of the greatest short-story writers in world literature. His career as a dramatist produced four classics and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics. Chekhov practised as a doctor throughout most of his literary career: "Medicine is my lawful wife," he once said, "and literature is my mistress." More ...

    Books by Anton Chekhov

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    Quotes by Anton Chekhov

    • Man is what he believes.
    • Perhaps the feelings that we experience when we are in love represent a normal state. Being in love shows a person who he should be.
    • Try to reason about love, and you will lose your reason.
    • We shall find peace. We shall hear the angels, we shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.
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    Biography of Anton Chekhov

    Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860 – 1904) was born in the small seaport of Taganrog, Ukraine, as the son of a grocer and grandson of a serf who had bought his own freedom and that of his three sons in 1841. He also taught himself to read and write. Chekhov's mother was Yevgenia Morozov, the daughter of a cloth merchant. Chekhov's childhood was shadowed by his father's tyranny, religious fanaticism, and long nights in the store which was open from five in the morning till midnight. "When I think back on my childhood," he later said, "it all seems quite gloomy to me."

    He attended a school for Greek boys in Taganrog (1867-68) and Taganrog grammar school (1868-79). The family was forced to move to Moskow following his father's bankruptcy. At the age of 16 Chekhov became independent and remained for some time alone in his native town, supporting himself through private tutoring.

    In 1879 Chekhov entered the Moskow University Medical School. While in the school he started to publish hundreds of comic short stories to support himself and his mother, sisters and brothers. His publisher at this period was Nicholas Leikin, owner of the St. Petersburg journal Oskolki (splinters). He often depicted silly social situations, marital problems, farcical encounters between husbands, wives, mistresses, and lovers, whims of young women, of whom Chekhov had not much knowledge - the author was was shy with women even after his marriage. Chekhov's first novel, Nenunzhaya pobeda (1882), set in Hungary, parodied the novels of the popular Hungarian writer MA³r JA³kai. As a politician JA³kai was also mocked for his ideological optimism. By 1886 Chekhov had gained wide fame as a writer. Chekhov published his works in St. Petersburg daily papers, Peterburskaia gazeta from 1885, and Novoe vremia from 1886. His second full-length novel, The Shooting Party, was translated into English in 1926. Agatha Christie used its characters and atmosphere in her mystery novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926).

    Chekhov graduated in 1884, and practiced medicine until 1892. In 1886 Chekhov met H.S. Suvorin, who invited him to become a regular contributor for the St. Petersburg daily Novoe vremya. His friendship with Suvorin ended in 1898 because of his objections to the anti-Dreyfus campaingn conducted by the daily. But during these years Chechov developed his concept of the dispassionate, non-judgemental author. He outlined his program in a letter to his brother Aleksandr: "1. Absence of lengthy verbiage of political-social-economic nature; 2. total objectivity; 3. truthful descriptions of persons and objects; 4. extreme brevity; 5. audacity and originality; flee the stereotype; 6. compassion."Chechov's refusal to join the ranks of social critics arose the wrath of liberal and radical intellitentsia and he was criticized for avoidance of offering solutions to his serious social and moral themes. However, he was defended by such leading writers as Leo Tolstoy and Nikolai Leskov. "I'm not a liberal, or a conservative, or a gradualist, or a monk, or an indifferentist. I should like to be a free artist and that's all..." Chechov said in 1888.

    The failure of his play The Wood Demon (1889) and problems with his novel made Chekhov to withdraw from literature for a period. In 1890 he travelled across Siberia to remote prison island, Sakhalin. There he conducted a detailed census of some 10 000 convicts and settlers condemned to live their lives on that harsh island. Chechov hoped to use the results of his research for his doctoral dissertation. It is probable that hard conditions also worsened his own physical condition. From this journey was born his famous travel book The Island: A Journey to Sakhalin (1893-94). Chekhov returned to Russia via Singapore, India, Ceylon, and the Suez Canal. From 1892 to 1899 Chekhov worked in Melikhovo, and in Yalta from 1899. Chekhov's fist book of stories (1886) was a success, and gradually he became a full-time writer.
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