Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (January 29
[O.S. January 17] 1860 – July 15 [O.S. July 2] 1904) (Russian: Анто́н Па́влович Че́хов, was a Russian short-story writer and
playwright, considered to be one of the greatest short story writers in world
literature. His playwriting career produced four classics: The Seagull,
Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard; 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."
Chekhov renounced the theatre after
the disastrous reception of The Seagull in 1896; but the play was revived to
acclaim by Konstantin Stanislavsky's Moscow Art Theatre, which subsequently
also produced Uncle Vanya and premiered Chekhov’s last two plays, Three Sisters
and The Cherry Orchard. These four works present a special challenge to the
acting ensemble as well as to audiences, because in place of conventional
action Chekhov offers a "theatre of mood" and a "submerged life
in the text."
Chekhov had at first written stories
only for the money, but as his artistic ambition grew, he made formal
innovations which have influenced the evolution of the modern short story.
His originality consists in an early use of the stream-of-consciousness
technique, later adopted by Virginia Woolf and other modernists, combined with
a disavowal of the moral finality of traditional story structure. He made no
apologies for the difficulties this posed to readers, insisting that the role
of an artist was to ask questions, not to answer them.
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