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Culture & Religion

Chekhov’s Resurgence

One hundred and fifty years after his birth, Anton Chekhov’s plays have become almost as much a part of modern theater’s repertoire as Shakespeare.

What hubristic impulse is it that draws us to rewrite this man and his work? On one level it’s obvious. He’s a great writer and his characters live in the imagination. His short theatre career has encouraged many to supply the plays he didn’t live to write. His images—the dead bird, the failed shootings, the country estates, the axes hitting the trees—have all insinuated themselves into works as diverse as Ibsen’s The Wild Duck and Louis Malle’s Milou en Mai. And he’s iconic, too: the pince-nez and neat goatee are almost as recognisable as the starched ruff and high forehead of Shakespeare.


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