Anton Chekhov: A Life by Donald Rayfield

By Donald Rayfield

Anton Chekhov's lifestyles was once brief, severe, and ruled by way of battles, either along with his dependents and with the tuberculosis that killed him at age forty-four. the conventional picture of Chekhov is that of the limited artist torn among drugs and literature. yet Donald Rayfield's biography unearths the lifestyles lengthy hidden in the back of the noble facade. here's a guy able to either nice generosity towards needy peasants and vicious callousness towards fans and relatives, a guy who craved with equivalent ardour the corporate of others and the solitude essential to create his artwork. according to details from Chekhov information all through Russia, Rayfield's paintings has been hailed as a groundbreaking exam of the lifetime of a literary grasp. a brand new biography of the good writer and playwright.

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I had never seen my grandmother looking so strange. She wore a nightgown, and her silvery hair streamed free over her shoulders. She was smiling at me. I had never seen her smile before. Smiling like that, she looked more like a girl than a grandmother. “Look who’s been here,” she said to me. They were all smiling, and at me. This was very, very strange. They were not people who smiled much, least of all at children. By the dim kerosene lamp I saw that the tree’s branches were filled with objects of many colors and odd shapes.

What my mother saw was an overpowering figure accustomed to command. What Ida Rebecca saw was a frail little creature with her hair cut in the sassy new pageboy bob. A suspicious touch of the city flapper, that haircut. Decent women let their hair grow and tied it in a knot on the back of the head. And skinny little ankles and wrists like twigs that looked as if they’d snap if they had to do any real work. What in the world did Benny see in her? She certainly wasn’t pretty. Didn’t have enough weight on her to be pretty.

40 Russell at four, Morrisonville, 1929. “You’re a smart boy. ” “ ‘Boy,’ ” I said. When I read most of the sentence without too much help, he said to my mother, “You’re doing good with him. ” Pleased, my mother reached across me and kissed him on the cheek. ” They both laughed a little a t this. Maybe he liked the extravagance of the idea as much as she did. Then he turned off the kerosene lamp. That night they let me sleep between them. The occasional outbursts of passion that flickered across my childhood were like summer storms.

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