In "Reading Chekhov" Janet Malcolm takes on three roles: literary critic, biographer and journalist.
Her close readings of the stories and plays are interwoven with episodes from Chekhov's life and framed by an account of a recent journey she made to St Petersburg.
Writing of Chekhov's life, Malcolm demonstrates how the shadow of death that hovered over most of his literary career - he became consumptive in his 20s and died in his 40s - is almost everywhere reflected in the work.
She writes of his childhood, his relationship with his family, his marriage, his travels, his early success, his exile to Yalta - always with an eye to connecting them to the themes and characters of the stories and plays.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 224 pages
- Publisher: Granta Books
- Publication Date: 15/01/2004
- Category: Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900
- ISBN: 9781862076358
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Review by john257hopper
This is a very readable analysis of the plays and stories of Chekhov, examining his characters and themes and how they may relate to aspects of Chekhov's life, leavened with the author's own observations on her travels through modern day Russia visiting places significant to the great author, while also taking into account places significant to Dostoevsky and Akhmatova. The close relationship between Chekhov and Tolstoy is also interesting. This offered the right kind of literary criticism, stimulating my interest in a relatively undemanding way.