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Chekhov: The Hidden Ground

By Philip Callow
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Book Details
  • Author: Philip Callow
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee
  • Edition: First Edition
Philip Callow's new biography of Russia's greatest dramatist and storyteller is a major achievement. By examining Chekhov's life within the context of the evolution of his art, Mr. Callow makes the reader acutely aware of the hidden ground from which Chekhov's work sprang and on which his divided life stood. Arthur Miller calls Chekhov "in nearly every way our contemporary." His irony is as modern as Beckett's; as a letter writer he is as natural and irresistible as D. H. Lawrence. In his personal life he is as understated as in his work. But the love theme that is central to his biography and his art is profoundly convincing and humane, but in his own life he holds back coldly and perhaps fearfully from real commitment. He constantly surprises us: a modest genius who finds the whole nature of fame unseemly; a man furious at injustice who is apolitical; a humorist in despair before the mediocrity, stupidity, and cruelty of the world; a generous spirit unable to stop working to improve the lot of others, incapable of turning anyone away, who remains stubbornly apart and hidden. Readers of Mr. Callow's Chekhov will find it a supremely satisfying biography, beautifully told.

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