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The Plays of Anton Chekhov Paperback – April 8, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Chekhov left a legacy of four major dramas as well as hundreds of short comic sketches and stories. Strongly influenced by the Symbolist movement, Chekhov drew upon his personal experiences in depicting the lives of the Russian landed gentry. The period 1996-2004 marks the centennial of the premieres of his best-known plays and brings a renewed appreciation of his place in modern drama. The translations of The Three Sisters, The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, and The Cherry Orchard by Rocamora (theater, Tisch Sch. of the Arts, NYU) remain faithful to the period flavor of the original while being fresh and fluid for modern American actors and audiences. Rocamora also provides a lengthy biographical sketch of Chekhov, which is useful for an understanding of his works. A respected translator, dramaturge, actor, and playwright, Schmidt intends to re-create in American English vernacular the vitality and humor of Chekhov. In this, he succeeds admirably, particularly in some of the short comedies, such as The Proposal. Schmidt's translations seem the more contemporary of the two work under review, and he makes use of many common vulgarisms in the comedies?presumably bringing them closer to what Chekhov's audiences were familiar with. Both titles offer fine contemporary translations that are a pleasure to read. If your collection can support only one "complete Chekhov," go with Schmidt; otherwise, these two titles complement each other and can be recommended for all modern drama collections.?Howard E. Miller, St. Louis
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 387 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (April 8, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060928751
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060928759
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Looking forward to reading the book for my acting class!
B. Sterling
Schmidt's translation is very popular with modern actors because he has 'updated' the text.
BK Gondor
It's not always meant to be economical or direct (although he is direct in his day).
"hamletactor"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
Having taught Chekhov for a number of years, using translations by Constance Garnett, Elizaveta Fen, David Mamet, and others, it's a pleasure to discover Schmidt's recent translation of Chekhov's major plays. His translations, at times daring linguistically, bring a fresh vitality to Chekhov's plays. I am especially fond of his translations of Uncle Vanya and The Cherry Orchard. New generations of Chekhov readers will find Schmidt's work interesting, accessible, and energetic.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
This translation, which incorporates the original vernacular seamlessly into a contemporary translation, is by FAR the finest translation of Chekhov's plays (especially *Uncle Vanya*) I have ever read, or am likely to. As a professor of dramatic literature, I will never again teach Chekhov without assigning my students this fine edition--may it long stay in print.
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34 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Armen Yampolsky on June 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
Schmidt's translation sounds smooth to a modern American, and thus eases the American actor's job. It fails, however, to bring the real Chekhov to the English language. Chekhov's writing has a rhythm, a compactness, and a vocabulary that is uniquely his, one that inimitably captures a very distinctive slice of Russian life as it existed one hundred years ago. It is possible to show this slice to an English speaking audience, but Schmidt had no interest in doing this. That is why this translation is a failure.
A secondary but equally unforgiveable fault is that he adds his own stage direction to the text. For instance, he adds the word "beat" to the text in places where Chekhov had nothing at all. The American concept of a stage "beat" had not even been invented yet!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Long on July 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
I haven't read Chekhov's plays in Russian so I can't say anything about the translation except that it is very readable.
Chekhov had his own unique style in that his plays were usually mere verbal interaction with most significant action taking place offstage. Even though most of his plays, especially his four act plays, take place at rich, country houses far removed from any sort of normal life, he seems to pick out timeless themes of humanness in several characters and weave them together into an almost plotless commentary. The fact that his plays have endured as long as they have are a testament to his genius and his skill at seeing timeless ideas.
Chekhov's long plays are always revered and remembered as classics but this collection gives the reader a chance to see what an unbelievable short play writer he was. They have their own special feel apart from his longer works and give short little insights to the comedy and often comedic tragedy of human nature and human absurdity.
The Cherry Orchard, the Seagull, and Uncle Vanya are classic four acts by Chekhov but don't overlook Ivanov. It was one of his earlier ones and one of my favorites. Chekhov does a good job of making several unique characters and having them react around the central situation and an older man and a younger woman give you an interesting view at an interesting love story.
For short plays I would recommend "The Bear", "The Proposal", and "A Reluctant Tragic Hero". Especially in the Proposal Chekhov's comedy is especially portrayed.
This collection, in general, an all-around good read. Well worth reading this collection of one of the best playwrights.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G. Fulcher on November 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
Renowned Director and Chekhov afficionado David Cromer swears by this translation of Chekhov's greatest (and lesser-known as well) works. I agree, its truly the most accessible translation for the American mouth I've ever read/performed. Perfect for monologue auditions, or productions of your own. ACTORS, STUDENTS AND SCHOLARS ALIKE SHOULD ALL OWN THIS TRANSLATION!
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful By "hamletactor" on February 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
Schmidt presents a 'smooth' translation of Chekhov including his insertion of '(Beat)'s. However it is not faithful to the TIME and CONTEXT of Chekhov's Russia. TIME: Chekhov's language often reflects the social customs of the period and manner with which to approach communication. It's not always meant to be economical or direct (although he is direct in his day). So an 'updated' translation which flows quickly will flatten these nuances. CONTEXT: One has to understand the development of Theater in Russia in his time. His plays are not meant for melodramatic performances (prior to his time) or 'Method' acting (our time). Hence, a translation written for performances today will be colored by the directorial style preferred today. It is important to take that into consideration. By these standards, then no translation is acceptable. However if you find one that will generously tell the reader the difficulties in translating, present the various versions, include historical resources, notes and essays, and have plenty of footnotes. Then you are likely to have a good idea. I recommend Bristow's translation from Norton.
PS - I'm reviewing this from the point of view of a director. For actors or literature students or everyday readers, it is obviously a different matter.
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Damian G. Karlo on September 20, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although the author does a very good job putting the text of the plays into the modern English vernacular, I feel as though the works have had their flavor removed. If you are a purist, like I am, stick to the "old" translation.
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