Try to be original in your play and as clever as possible; but don't be afraid to show yourself foolish; we must have freedom of thinking, and only he is an imancipated thinker who is not afraid to write foolish things.
(ANTON CHEKHOV, letter to A.P. Chekhov, April 11, 1889)
Some notes on Chekhov
Chekhov's stories are as wonderful (and necessary) now as when they first appeared. It is not only the immense number of stories he wrote — for few, if any, writers have ever done more — it is the awesome frequency with which he produced masterpieces, stories that shrive us as well as delight and move us, that lay bare our emotions in ways only true art can accomplish. ...
a satirical chronicler of Russian street life ...
In 1884, Chekhov qualified as a physician, which he considered his principal profession though he made little money from it and treated the poor for free. ...
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 exploited 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. ...
Constance Garnett's translations won Chekhov an English-language readership and the admiration of writers such as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Katherine Mansfield, the last arguably to the point of plagiarism. The Russian critic D.S. Mirsky, who lived in England, explained Chekhov's popularity in that country by his "unusually complete rejection of what we may call the heroic values". ...
One of the first non-Russians to praise Chekhov's plays was George Bernard Shaw, who subtitled his Heartbreak House "A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes" and noted similarities between the predicament of the British landed class and that of their Russian counterparts as depicted by Chekhov: "the same nice people, the same utter futility".
In America, Chekhov's reputation began its rise slightly later, partly through the influence of the Stanislavsky System, with its notion of subtext. "Chekhov often expressed his thought not in speeches," wrote Stanislavsky, "but in pauses or between the lines or in replies consisting of a single word… the characters often feel and think things not expressed in the lines they speak". The Group Theatre, in particular, developed the subtextual approach to drama, influencing generations of American playwrights, screenwriters, and actors, including Clifford Odets, Elia Kazan and, in particular, Lee Strasberg, whose Actors Studio and its "Method" acting approach in turn influenced many actors, including Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro, though by then the Chekhov tradition may have been distorted by a preoccupation with realism. In 1981, the playwright Tennessee Williams adapted The Seagull as The Notebook of Trigorin.
Chekhov is now the most popular playwright in the English-speaking world after Shakespeare; but some writers believe his short stories represent the greater achievement. Raymond Carver, who wrote the short story Errand about Chekhov's death, believed Chekhov the greatest of all short-story writers. ...
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF THE
PRINCIPAL WORKS OF ANTON TCHEKOFF
(Source: Gutenberg )
"The Swan Song" 1889
"The Proposal" 1889
"The Boor" 1890
"The Sea-Gull" 1896
"The Tragedian in Spite of Himself" 1899
"The Three Sisters" 1901
"Uncle Vanya" 1902
"The Cherry Orchard" 1904
NOVELS AND SHORT STORIES
"Humorous Folk" 1887
"Twilight, and Other Stories" 1887
"Morose Folk" 1890
"Variegated Tales" 1894
"Old Wives of Russia" 1894
"The Duel" 1895
"The Chestnut Tree" 1895
"Ward Number Six" 1897
"The Island of Saghalien" 1895
"Life in the Provinces" 1898