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The Cherry Orchard Paperback – January 1, 1991
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The last act will be joyful. --Chekhov on THE CHERRY ORCHARD in letter to Olga Knipper
The last act will be joyful. --Chekhov on THE CHERRY ORCHARD in letter to Olga Knipper --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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The Cherry Orchard is a play about change, and the symbolism is pretty easy to recognize. What makes it stand apart, I think, from a thousand other plays on the same theme is its wonderful sense of comedy, of smiling sadness. Chekhov all his life insisted it was a comedy. As the Cherry Orchard slips away from the Ranevskys, they seem to smile at its going. As they are unable to change their habits -- still lending money they don't have, still spending extravagantly -- they quietly laugh at their own foolishness. The change comes, and they leave, heartbroken -- but embracing the change at the same time, only feebling struggling against it. One feels saddest, in the end, for Lopakhin, the new owner of the Cherry Orchard. He seems to believe he has bought happiness and friends, but is quickly discovering the emptiness of money and possessions, as no one wants to borrow from him, and no one seems to pay him much heed at all.
Chekhov paints with a fine brush, and I appreciate that. There is no thunderstorming, no ranting and raving in this work. There is a fine and subtle, sad and comedic portrayal of a family and a place encountering change. It is a heartbreak with a smile.
The translation, though the only one I've read, seems good. It is easy to follow and rich in simple feeling.
if you'd like to discuss this play with me, or recommend something i might enjoy, or just chat, e-mail me at email@example.com.
What I like most about Chekhov is that he doesn't simplify his characters. He's a realist in this sense. Lopahkin and Trophimof each have admirable and detestable characteristics, just like you and I. While it may be set in the tumultuous period prior to the Russian revolution, the ideas and the discussions this play provokes are timeless.
For me, the real strength of "The Cherry Orchard" is its unwillingness to come down propagandistically on one side of any issue. The intellectual and eternal student Trophimof levels a critique against capitalism, but one must bear in mind that it is capitalism that engineers the upward rise of the erstwhile peasant (and now landowner) Lopakhin (and, in the context of this play's being labeled a "comedy," I think Chekhov codes this rise as a conditionally good thing). Trophimof in fact seems to be granted a great deal of authority by the play, as he complains about the lazy intelligentsia and the useless aristocracy, but, sure enough, not wanting to make things too simple or simplistic, Chekhov has Madame Ranevsky put him in his place. If this is a commentary on turn-of-the-century Russian society and politics (and I think we must read it as such), it is a very balanced, multi-perspectival and complex one.
Even the criticism of the play's upper classes--the focus on Gayef's irrational obsession with billiards or Pishtchik's naive assumption that, when he is in the deepest of financial troubles, something will always come along to bail him out--is delicately balanced against the workaholic insensitivity of Lopakhin, who leaves Varya Ranevsky stranded at the play's end and expecting a proposal of marriage from him that is hinted at but never comes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The characters are super dull and there isn't even a clear, solid plot. This play is irrelevant in every sense of the word.Published 11 months ago by Chaibomb
So yeah... the Kindle version is NOT the Tom Stoppard translation and I'm not sure how to refund...Published 13 months ago by Lauren Brady
I enjoyed reading this moving play about the takeover of a family orchard by communists. The first thing they did was cut down the cherry trees which were like family members... Read morePublished 21 months ago by rave
This item claims to be the Tom Stoppard translation. It is not. Moreover it is a fairly poor translation. I wasted my money and now still have to purchase the correct one.Published 21 months ago by Brady Caverly
This was really not my favorite play. Maybe the problem was that I could envision it as a bad high school production.Published 22 months ago by Katie
I bought this book thinking it was the regular book. It is written as a play. My wife did read it and said she thought it was ok. It only has about 50 pages.Published 23 months ago by MKN