Revisiting Chekhov, after 20 years’ neglect, with Michael Pennington, who is passionate about his subject, & talks of revisiting the playwright after his own period of neglect. Then, what’s a year to a grand passion? What’s a hundred? Seven hundred?

Three Sisters at the Moscow Art Theatre

Chekhov is also bringing from his journalism a sharp eye for the obsessive, for the ludicrous ease with which we ignore other people’s needs. This is a farce technique, but now used for something a farceur hardly aspires to: a hymn to our doomed, resentful independence. It is as if he had suddenly seen how communities are formed in spite of themselves, in the length and breadth of Russia. All his plays from [The Seagull] involve a local group dealing with visitors from somewhere else who then go away, leaving Vanya and Sonya, the three sisters and old Firs struggling.

– Michael Pennington, Are you There, Crocodile? Inventing Anton Chekhov, Oberon Books, London, 2003, p. 37

– a young Anton Pavlovich Chekhov

In a bad production of The Cherry Orchard, Gaev willingly serenades his bookcase or talks about billiards because he’s a funny old thing. In a good one you see that the pain of his nostalgia, and his discomfiture in his present company, is forcing him into foolishness.

– Ibid., p. 53

– Chekhov with Tolstoy