Considered the greatest short story writer, Anton Chekhov changed the genre itself with his spare, impressionistic depictions of Russian life and the human condition. From characteristically brief, evocative early pieces such as “The Huntsman” and the tour de force “A Boring Story,” to his best-known stories such as “The Lady with the Little Dog” and his own personal favorite, “The Student,” Chekhov’s short fiction possesses the transcendent power of art to awe and change the reader. This monumental edition, expertly translated, is especially faithful to the meaning of Chekhov’s prose and the unique rhythms of his writing, giving readers an authentic sense of his style and a true understanding of his greatness.
The play portrays the visit of an elderly professor and his glamorous, much younger second wife, Yelena, to the rural estate that supports their urban lifestyle. Two friends—Vanya, brother of the professor's late first wife, who has long managed the estate, and Astrov, the local doctor—both fall under Yelena's spell, while bemoaning the ennui of their provincial existence. Sonya, the professor's daughter by his first wife, who has worked with Vanya to keep the estate going, suffers from her unrequited feelings for Dr. Astrov. Matters are brought to a crisis when the professor announces his intention to sell the estate, Vanya and Sonya's home, with a view to investing the proceeds to achieve a higher income for himself and his wife.
The Cherry Orchard was first produced by the Moscow Art Theatre on Chekhov's last birthday, January 17, 1904. Since that time it has become one of the most critically admired and performed plays in the Western world, a high comedy whose principal theme, the passing of the old semi feudal order, is symbolized in the sale of the cherry orchard owned by Madame Ranevsky.
The play also functions as a magnificent showcase for Chekhov's acute observations of his characters' foibles and for quizzical ruminations on the approaching dissolution of the world of the Russian aristocracy and life as it was lived on their great country estates. While the subject and the characters of the work are, in a sense, timeless, the dramatic technique of the play was a Chekhovian innovation. In this and other plays he developed the concept of "indirect action," in which the dramatic action takes place off stage and the significance of the play revolves around the reactions of the characters to those unseen events.
Reprinted from a standard edition, this inexpensive well-made volume invites any lover of theater or great literature to enter the world of Madame Ranevsky, Anya, Gayef, Lopakhin, Firs, and the other memorable characters whose hopes, fears, loves, and general humanity are so brilliantly depicted in this landmark of world drama.