Anton Chekhov Legacy

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A few months before he died, Chekhov told the writer Ivan Bunin he thought people might go on reading him for seven years. "Why seven?" asked Bunin. "Well, seven and a half," Chekhov replied. "That’s not bad. I’ve got six years to live."[85]

Always modest, Chekhov could hardly have imagined the extent of his posthumous reputation. The ovations for The Cherry Orchard in the year of his death showed him how high he had risen in the affection of the Russian public—by then he was second in literary celebrity only to Tolstoy,[86] who outlived him by six years—but after his death, Chekhov's fame soon spread further afield. Constance Garnett's translations won him an English-language readership and the admiration of writers such as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Katherine Mansfield. The issues surrounding the close similarities between Mansfield's 1910 story The Child Who Was Tired and Chekhov's Sleepy are summarised in William H. New's Reading Mansfield and Metaphors of Reform[87] The Russian critic D.S. Mirsky, who lived in England, explained Chekhov's popularity in that country by his "unusually complete rejection of what we may call the heroic values."[88] In Russia itself, Chekhov's drama fell out of fashion after the revolution but was later adapted to the Soviet agenda, with the character Lopakhin, for example, reinvented as a hero of the new order, taking an axe to the cherry orchard.[89][90]

One of the first non-Russians to praise Chekhov's plays was George Bernard Shaw, who subtitled his Heartbreak House "A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes" and noted similarities between the predicament of the British landed class and that of their Russian counterparts as depicted by Chekhov: "the same nice people, the same utter futility."[91] Chekhov International Theatre Festival poster

Modern production of The Seagull

In America, Chekhov's reputation began its rise slightly later, partly through the influence of Stanislavski's system of acting,...
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