Chekhov: The Hidden Ground

Chekhov: The Hidden Ground➶ [Reading] ➸ Chekhov: The Hidden Ground By Philip Callow ➫ – A major achievement Callow examines Chekhov's life within the context of the evolution of his art making the reader acutely aware of the hidden ground from which his work sprang and on which his life A major achievement Callow examines Chekhov's life within the context of the evolution of his art making the reader acutely aware of the hidden ground from which his Chekhov: The ePUB ô work sprang and on which his life stood A beautifully written biography by a novelist poet and biographer. I don’t often actively pursue biographical information about the authors I read It’s enough that I enjoy their stories and enrich my life with their words But there are exceptionsAnton Chekhov is one of them I came to his writing relatively late in my life post grad school but he immediately captivated me and it’s fascinating to discover how alike we are though it certainly explains why I like him I don’t want to sound too arrogant – I’m not saying that my life mirror’s Chekhov’s God forbid or that I possess the talent and insight he did definitely not What I mean is that how we see the world and its people is remarkably similar The same thing occurred when I began reading Maugham bios – another case of dissimilar lives and talents but a beautifully congruent Weltanshauung humble apologies it’s not often I can use this wordPhilip Callow’s biography of Chekhov is a very readable and balanced view of a very complex man Like many of his stories Chekhov was a portrait of ambiguity and contradiction Unlike many of his contemporaries and earlier authors Dostoyevsky Turgenev Gorky etc Chekhov was never a “political” writer His guiding principle as an author was impartial observation Many of his characters do awful things but they’re never judged And unlike Tolstoy another contemporary he never celebrated the supposed “nobility” of the peasant or the severe simplistic Christianity that author espousedA gregarious man who enjoyed the company of friends Chekhov was an intensely private one who avoided intimacy with all but perhaps his sister his close friend Suvorin and his wife And even these three always recognized an inaccessible core that they could never penetrate A man who easily became restless and bored stuck in one place he could be intensely provincial when traveling A man who loved his family intensely he often fled from their “neediness”One of the things I disliked about this book is that Callow not a professional historian – he’s an author though he had written several biographies does not cite his sources He has a terribly inadeuate page discussing them but it’s difficult to distinguish within the text where he relies on primary sources and where he’s indulging in speculation albeit eminently reasonable speculationThe other thing that I disliked was the dearth of photographs This is a complaint common to many contemporary biographies I’ve read – not enough andor not relevant photos I find it so much interesting to be able to put faces to names and to see the environments of the subject Apropos of nothing but in regards to one of the photos that is in the volume There’s a photograph where Chekhov is posing with a couple of actress friends and I swear he looks just like Ed NortonTo sum up this is a well written and interesting biography of a fascinating man and I would recommend it with good conscience Anton Chekhov 1860 1904 is known for his short stories and plays I have not usuallly been a fan of short stories except possibly in the science fiction and horror genres so I did not come across Chekhov's works until about ten years ago Father Athanasius Akunda had just arrived in South Africa as a young deacon to help with mission work in the Orthodox Church There were many people who wanted to become Orthodox and some who might have potential to study at a seminary but few who actually had the educational reuirementss necessary for entering a seminary So we discussed the possibility of having a bridging course and Father Athanasius suggested that we have a kind of theology in literature course He had himself taught English literature in high schools before he was ordained We wrote to various people we knew to recommend suitable reading material which would help to improve people's reading skills and also help to introduce them to cultures shaped by Orthodoxy which was uite unfamiliar to most people in South Africa Father Thomas Hopko of St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood New York recommended the short stories of Anton Chekhov and in particular Bishop Student Nightmare Easter Eve On holy night Murder Princess Letter Cossack Panikhida Reuiem Uprooted In Exile On the Road In Passion Week DreamsSo I took a couple of volumes of Chechov's short stories out of the library and was hooked I didn't just read the ones that Fr Tom Hopko recommended but I read them all A couple of years later we had the opportunity to put Fr Athanasius's idea into practice as a Catechetical School had been started in Yeoville Johannesburg It was something that Father Athanasius and I had been discussing for a long time He had taught literature in high school classes but I had never taught such a thing Would it work? Should we betrying it? Against all the principles of modern education this had no specific outcomes no specified assessment criteria There was no hope that we could get accredited on this but we were feeling our way Where to?The class was supposed to be the previous week but that was cancelled in mourning for the death of the Pope and Patriarch and the three bishops and others with him So the students had two weeks to read the two short textsThe texts were The martyrdom of Polycarp and Chekhov's short story The bishop We told them nothing other than that they were about two bishops at different times and places and both were about their deaths and the events immediately leading up to their deathsWe had four students for all of whom English was a second or third language Each had a different home language from the other three One from Zimbabwe spoke Shona; he had attended a Roman Catholic seminary and was the intellectual of the group Another was a refugee from Congo; English was his third language his second language was French The third whose home language was North Sotho really wanted to be a carpenter and was not academically inclined but perhaps he had a poetic ear And the fourth spoke Zulu; he was a political organiser the leader of a youth choir a go getterBut the stories left the students in darkness One said he could not penetrate the meaning The Chekhov one took place in Holy Week but that was about itSo I asked them to read a few paragraphs aloud The bishop goes home to the monastery where he lives He is told his mother had called to see him He is overjoyed to learn this but it is too late to see her now He begins to feel ill the illness that will lead to his death but we the readers and he do not know this yet He says his prayers scrupulously and attentively and at the same time thinks of his mother and his childhood which seems happier in retrospect than it did at the timeHow does this compare with Polycarp? Polycarp too has a journey but unlike Bishop Pyotr in Chekhov's tale he is on the run from the police but eventually decides to give himself up He too rides in a coach but it isn't his but the police commissioner's He barks his shins as he gets downBut there are other things too Polycarp feeds the arresting officers and I was reminded of Beyers Naude who had died last week When he was banned the Security Police often used to watch his house noting details of any visitors And his wife Tannie Ilse would take them coffee and biscuits out to the car As St Paul says when your enemy is hungry feed him I'm supposed to be the teacher here but I'm learning a great deal from reading these stories Are the students learning anything I wonder? And like Bishop Pyotr my mind goes back to my youth to English I tutorials with Christina van Heyningen and Glen Culpepper on the lawn in front of the Arts Block at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg Did they too wonder if they were getting anything of their enthusiasm across to these rather dull students? When I was 23 I was remarkably dull and unresponsive to literature and writing Perhaps I should have done something else and waited till I was 63 before doing English literature classes at university I'd certainly have appreciated them better then As they say youth is wasted on the youngAnd then I remembered that in discussing this Father Athanasius and I did have specific outcomes in mind after all Ambitious unrealistic and certainly not likely to be accepted as a Level 4 unitstandard with the South African ualifications Authority SAA We wanted the students to write literature in Shona North Sotho Zulu and whatever language the Congolese student spoke at home Perhaps who knows one of them may be the new Chekhov for that language So we gave them an assignment write your own story about a bishop It can be fact or fiction real or imaginary How long? How many words? How many pages? As long as it takes to say what you have to say no and no lessThey had until the end of the semester to write them Perhaps some might be worthy of publication Yes that's an outcome And it's uite specificBut the outcome was never achieved None of the students wrote a storySo I was glad that I had come to Chekhov's stories at the age of 63 rather than the age of 23 I'd probably not have appreciated them at the younger age And I learned from this biography that Chekhov was only halfway between those ages when he died I learned that The Bishop was one of his mature stories written at a time when he was looking forward to his own death from TB And I learned that it differed a great deal from the stories he wrote in his youth I also learned that Chekhov had largely lost his faith when he wrote most of his stories and he said that the only thing that was left was that he loved the sound of church bells I was reminded of Fyodor Dostoevsky's book The brothers Karamazov in which there is a dog called Perezvon which means peal of bells In stories like The bishop one can see something of why and how the Orthodox Christian faith had so permeated Russian culture that the Bolsheviks were not able to eradicate it even after 70 years and I suspect that in such stories Chekhov passed on the seeds of faith even though it was a faith he himself had lost Chekhov is one of my favorite writers and I cant resist any of his biographies regardless of who wrote it This book was a difficult read for me I agonized with Chekhov's suffering Very much detailed though and I learned couple of new things didn't know before and had the chance to look at some of his stories form different angles Cried a lot at the last chapter I found this biography a bit heavy going particularly during the early stages It would have been good to have spent less time on Chekhov's involvement with various publications and maybe on the roots of his creative mind I liked learning about his Russian background and family but struggled with the slow progress of the book The style of the author's writing wasn't always to my liking I’m only 40% in on this biography written poorly by this British novelist who for some odd reason decided to do a bio of Anton Chekhov the author is British and prides himself with his very poor was it coal mining? Background This means his use of language is what I think is purposely common so as to avoid academic pretensions I’m only on p 148 and I feel I already have better insight than the author on why Chekhov was reluctant to marry; why his short stories tended to be absent of personal reflection; why Chekhov was moody often depressed disengaged Now I’m on page 248 and my disgust with bio doubled the author’s writing is awkward amateurish and often weird I’m shocked the biographer upon mentioning Chekhov’s longer short stories also dismisses them with little comment The author mentioned the 85 page story The Steppe is a towering work and established his brilliance at age 26 Yes and what about this work?The final 20 % of the bio is inordinately involved with Chekhov’s actress and high strung wife She life adds nothing to understanding Chekhov or his writings And then Chekhov dies I only continued with this bio to get a completed book for Goodreads I ran into several dreadful books of which I’m 13 to 12 completed Some of these are wildly popular novels like The Tattooist of Auschwitz and A Gentleman in Moscow There were others I just threw in the trash Dear Chekhov also featuring in Lecture 3 of the Art in Imperial Russia lectures at the Art Gallery of NSWwhat a feastAnd he and Tchaikovsky actually met A wonderful biography rich with details and uotes Gives a great sense of Chekhov the person and the artist

Chekhov: The Hidden Ground PDF ↠ Chekhov: The  ePUB
  • ebook
  • 448 pages
  • Chekhov: The Hidden Ground
  • Philip Callow
  • 12 June 2015
  • 9781461662365