Anton Pavlovich Chekov
We recognize Anton Pavlovich Chekhov as one of
the greatest poets, dramatists and writers. His tragedies were
particularly renowned. But as it happened, Chekhov’s favorites were
French farces and vaudevilles or light comical theatrical pieces
that combined pantomime, dialogue, song and dance. He has produced
some great one-act plays too.
Like the other
all-time literary greats, William Somerset Maugham and A. J.
Cronin, Chekhov too was a qualified medical doctor who showed
a distinct leaning for writing stories and plays rather than
writing prescriptions for patients.
Chekhov was born
in Taganrog, Russia, on the Sea of Azov, on January 29, 1860.
Chekhov’s romance with writing began during his days as a
medical student at the University of Moscow, when he began to
spin weaves of fantasy with his pen, churning short stories
with ease. After qualifying to practice medicine in the year
1884, Chekhov took to the pen seriously. He began as a
freelance journalist and as a writer of comic sketches.
Chekhov mastered the art of one-act plays and soon produced
some masterpieces. Some of these include The Bear,
produced in the year 1888 and The Wedding, produced in
1889. The former deals with a young widow who is hounded by
her creditor. Driven to fancy ends, the young lady agrees to
even face her creditor in a duel!
So impressed is the creditor that
he proposes marriage to her. The Wedding
is the story of a bridegroom’s earnest desire to
have a general
attend his wedding ceremony and who later discovers that the
special invitee is a retired naval captain "of the second
full-length plays, Ivanov (1887) and The Wood Demon
(1888) did nothing to plant him firmly in the literary field.
What really catapulted him to success was the production of
his plays by the Moscow Art Theatre. It began with his The
Seagull (1897), a play that had been received so badly
when produced earlier by a different company two years earlier
that Chekhov had walked out during the second act. Chekhov now
plunged into a critical analysis of his plays and presented
the Moscow Art Theatre a revised version of The Wood Demon,
renamed Uncle Vanya, in the year 1899. Along with his
later productions The Three Sisters and The Cherry
Orchard, Uncle Vanya went on to become one of the
masterpieces of the modern theatre.
In spite of the
success and fame that descended on the duo (Chekhov and the
Moscow Art Theatre director Constantin Stanislavsky), Chekhov
was unhappy with the way the director was handling his plays.
While Chekhov considered his mature plays to be a kind of
comic satire, he felt that Stanislavsky laid too much emphasis
on the tragic elements in the play. Whatever their
disagreements, as a team their production won great acclaim.
About himself, Chekhov has said that he merely wanted to
communicate to his people that they should look at themselves
and realize the dreariness of their lives. He believed that
once people did that they would create a better life for
lung hemorrhage at the very early age of thirty-seven. As the
disease advanced, he was forced into a sort of a retirement in
Crimea, although he continued his visits to Moscow to
participate in the production of his plays. He breathed his
last on July 14, 1904, at age forty-four. He was buried in
Moscow, but has remained immortal through his stories, poems