Today is the 161st birthday of the Russian playwright that is quoted as saying “Do silly things. Foolishness is a great deal more vital and healthy than our straining and striving after a meaningful life.” Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss because he has left.
NAME: Anton Chekhov
OCCUPATION: Playwright, Author
BIRTH DATE: January 29, 1860
DEATH DATE: July 15, 1904
PLACE OF BIRTH: Taganrog, Russia
PLACE OF DEATH: Badenweiler, Germany
REMAINS: Buried, Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow, Russia
PUSHKIN PRIZE 1888
BEST KNOWN FOR: Russian writer Anton Chekhov is recognized as a master of the modern short story and a leading playwright of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was born on January 29, 1860, in Taganrog, Russia. His father, Pavel, was a grocer with frequent money troubles; his mother, Yevgeniya, shared her love of storytelling with Chekhov and his five siblings.
When Pavel’s business failed in 1875, he took the family to Moscow to look for other work while Chekhov remained in Taganrog until he finished his studies. Chekhov finally joined his family in Moscow in 1879 and enrolled at medical school. With his father still struggling financially, Chekhov supported the family with his freelance writing, producing hundreds of short comic pieces under a pen name for local magazines.
Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
During the mid-1880s, Chekhov practiced as a physician and began to publish serious works of fiction under his own name. His pieces appeared in the newspaper New Times and then as part of collections such as Motley Stories (1886). His story The Steppe was an important success, earning its author the Pushkin Prize in 1888. Like most of Chekhov’s early work, it showed the influence of the major Russian realists of the 19th century, such as Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Chekhov also wrote works for the theater during this period. His earliest plays were short farces; however, he soon developed his signature style, which was a unique mix of comedy and tragedy. Plays such as Ivanov (1887) and The Wood Demon (1889) told stories about educated men of the upper classes coping with debt, disease and inevitable disappointment in life.
Love, friendship, and respect do not unite people as much as a common hatred for something.
Chekhov wrote many of his greatest works from the 1890s through the last few years of his life. In his short stories of that period, including Ward No. 6 and The Lady with the Dog, he revealed a profound understanding of human nature and the ways in which ordinary events can carry deeper meaning.
In his plays of these years, Chekhov concentrated primarily on mood and characters, showing that they could be more important than the plots. Not much seems to happen to his lonely, often desperate characters, but their inner conflicts take on great significance. Their stories are very specific, painting a picture of pre-revolutionary Russian society, yet timeless.
From the late 1890s onward, Chekhov collaborated with Constantin Stanislavski and the Moscow Art Theater on productions of his plays, including his masterpieces The Seagull (1895), Uncle Vanya (1897), The Three Sisters (1901) and, The Cherry Orchard (1904).
Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out.
In 1901, Chekhov married Olga Knipper, an actress from the Moscow Art Theatre. However, by this point his health was in decline due to the tuberculosis that had affected him since his youth. While staying at a health resort in Badenweiler, Germany, he died in the early hours of July 15, 1904, at the age of 44.
Chekhov is considered one of the major literary figures of his time. His plays are still staged worldwide, and his overall body of work influenced important writers of an array of genres, including James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and Henry Miller.