Sensitively written, this biography of Russia''s finest dramatist and short story writer reveals the surprising contradictions in the man. Callow portrays someone whose art was profoundly humane yet who was often cold and fearful in his private life.'
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Examining Chekhov's life within the context of his art, Mr. Callow finds him astonishingly modern: the new kind of man, uncomfortable in the world and refusing to sentimentalize his unease. But the love theme that is central to his biography and his art, which Mr. Callow explores with a novelist's skills and sensitivities, has been somehow slighted by Chekhov scholars. It is the hidden ground from which his work sprang and on which his divided life stood. We must constantly remind ourselves that Chekhov was for years a doctor first and a writer second, seeing writing as a frivolous, irrelevant activity. He exhausted himself with this double life and was soon in bad health. Mr. Callow's portrait reveals a puzzlingly elusive man who 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.About the Author:
Philip Callow's biographies of D. H. Lawrence, Son and Lover and Body of Truth, were widely praised. Mr. Callow, himself a novelist, poet, and biographer, has also written lives of Van Gogh, CÚzanne, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Walt Whitman, all published to critical acclaim. Mr. Callow lives and writes in England.
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