W. D. Wetherell Chekhov's Sister: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780316931625

Chekhov's Sister: A Novel

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9780316931625: Chekhov's Sister: A Novel
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In a struggle to protect and preserve her late brother's literary legacy from the destructive forces of the Germans, Maria Pavlovna Chekhov is determined to stage a production of his play, The Seagull, in a war-ravaged theater

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From Publishers Weekly:

The premise of this morality tale, set at the Chekhov Museum in 1941 Yalta, is a strong one--that great art can never be successfully manipulated for political purposes. Unfortunately Wetherell's ( The Man Who Loved Levittown ) homage to Russia's most distinguished playwright--which incorporates allusions, imitations of Chekhov's style and the occasional adoption of dramatic form--is marred by theatrical excesses. When Peter Sergeich Kunin, an idealistic medical student, is enlisted by his patroness, Chekhov's sister Maria Pavlovna, to help prevent the Museum from being turned into a Nazi barracks, he is at first repulsed by Pavlovna's attempts to ingratiate herself with the new German minister of culture, Reneok Diskau. A drug addict and sociopath, Diskau greatly admires Chekhov and decides to stage The Seagull as a showcase for his administration. Diskau not only casts himself in the lead role, but, certain that he can improve on the master's lines, shamelessly rewrites the play. Pavlovna, although willing to go to great lengths to see the Chekhov Museum preserved, resists Diskau's attempts to adulterate her brother's masterpiece, earning Kunin's sympathy. By the end of the novel, the forces of history render the Nazi invasion a shambles: Diskau's production is enthusiastically received by the few Russians who dare to attend but boycotted by the Nazi officers it was meant to impress.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

A paean to the great Russian writer/dramatist by the author of The Man Who Loved Levittown ( LJ 11/1/85), this novel centers on an attempt by Maria Pavlova Chekhov to save her brother's Yalta villa (now a museum) and its treasured contents from the depredations of the invading Nazis. Central to this attempt is a decision by the newly assigned Minister of Culture to stage The Seagull as a means of convincing the local population of the Germans' good intentions. This allows Wetherell to incorporate portions of Chekhov's work directly into his own. Indeed, its thematic content, style, and very structure serve as constant reminders of its source of inspiration--an approach that does not, however, imply a lack of originality. It is a moving story whose characters stand on their own and whose interactions remind us of the power of art (unlike more formal histories) to get to the essence of things and to help us endure. Highly recommended . -- David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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