A Chekhovian Immersion

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Price: $3.00
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I have always associated Chekhov with summer. He died on July 15, 1904, in a spa, after having consumed a last, doctor-prescribed glass of champagne. Then, his body was returned to Moscow in a refrigerated car used to transport oysters.

More than any author I can think of, Chekhov lived in constant awareness of his mortality. He was both a patient and a doctor. Tending to patients by day, and writing by night, he cast his diagnostic eye equally to the body and to the soul, undaunted by the absurdities of our muddled, bizarre lives and the complex tragi-comedy that is the human condition. Virginia Woolf said of his work: "Where the tune is familiar and the end emphatic—lovers united, villains discomfited, intrigues exposed—as it is in most Victorian fiction, we can scarcely go wrong. But where the tune is unfamiliar . . . as it is in Chekhov, we need a very daring and alert sense of literature to make us hear the tune, and in particular those last notes which complete the harmony.”

While you have, no doubt, read him, remember what Nabokov said, there is no such thing as reading, only rereading. And so, we will reread:

The Lady with the Dog
In the Ravine
A Visit to Friends
The House with the Mezzanine
Three Years

You can choose the translation or audio recording that you like best. I also recommend you get your hands on his notebooks, which offer a peek into his writing process. I will bring some excerpts and welcome similar excavations.

PS. Should you have a chance, also read or listen to "My Life," which some claim is his masterpiece. Here's a recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urVCgigZiu8