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Anton Chekhov
1860-1904
Russian dramatist and short-story writer, who is one of the foremost figures in Russian literature. 
 
  
 
                              The son of a merchant, Chekhov was born on January 29, 1860, in
                       Taganrog, Ukraine, and educated in medicine at Moscow State University
                       While still at the university he published humorous magazine stories and sketches.
                       He rarely practiced medicine because of his success as a writer and because he had
                       tuberculosis, at that time an incurable illness. The first collection of his humorous
                       writings, Motley Stories, appeared in 1886, and his first play, Ivanov, was
                       produced in Moscow the next year..

                             In 1890 Chekhov visited Sakhalin Island off the coast of Siberia and later wrote
                       Island Sakhalin (1891-94), an account of his visit. Chekhov's frail health caused
                       to move in 1897 from his small country estate near Moscow to the warmer climate
                       of the Crimea. He also made frequent trips to health resorts in Western Europe.
 
                             Near the end of the century he met the actor and producer Constantin
                       Stanislavski, director of the Moscow Art Theater, which in 1898 produced
                       Chekhov's famous play The Sea Gull (1896; trans. 1923). This association of
                       playwright and director, which continued until Chekhov's death, led to the
                       production of several of his one-act dramas and his other well-known plays,
                       Uncle Vanya (1899; trans. 1923), The Three Sisters (1901; trans. 1923),
                       and The Cherry Orchard (1904; trans. 1923).

                            Chekhov died at a German spa on July 14/15, 1904.Modern critics consider
                       Chekhov one of the masters of the short-story form. He was largely responsible for
                       the modern type of short story that depends for effect on mood and symbolism
                       rather than on plot. His narratives, rather than having a climax and resolution, are
                       a thematic arrangement of impressions and ideas. Using themes relating to the
                       everyday life of the landed gentry and professional middle class, Chekhov portrayed
                       the pathos of life in Russia before the 1905 revolution: the futile, boring, and lonely
                       lives of people unable to communicate with one another. Some of Chekhov's best
                       known stories are included in the posthumously published Darling and Other
                       Stories (1910; trans. 1916-22)
                       .

                            In the Russian theater Chekhov is preeminently a representation of modern
                       naturalism. His plays, like his stories, are studies of the spiritual failure of characters
                       in an aristocratic society that is disintegrating. To portray these themes Chekhov
                       developed a new dramatic technique, which he called "indirect action." He
                       concentrated on subtleties of characterization and interaction between characters
                       rather than on plot and direct action. In a Chekhov play important dramatic events
                       take place offstage. Some of his plays were originally rejected in Moscow, but his
                       technique has become accepted by modern playwrights and audiences, and his
                       plays appear frequently in theatrical repertories.
 

                       Picture courtesey of Culver Pictures, Inc.