Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (Russian: Анто́н Па́влович Че́хов; 29 January 1860 15 July 1904) was a Russian short-story writer, playwright and physician in the turn of the previous century. He's best known for his dramatic works, and especially his four major plays: The Seagull, Three Sisters, Uncle Vanya and The Cherry Orchard. His plays seem to be nearly-plotless character studies. Although they're often about how depressed people are with the lives they lead, Chekhov referred to his plays as Comedies (aside from Three Sisters). His main objective with his work was to get people to see the pain in their lives and make a change. He worked as a doctor most of his life, and there are many doctors as characters in his work. His plays were not well-received initially, and he almost gave up writing after the first production of The Seagull was a bomb... and then it was revived four years later by the Moscow Art Theater and was a huge smash hit.
He had some of the greatest last words ever: "It has been a long time since I tasted champagne," right after his last sip.
He is strongly associated with Stanislavski (the father of Method acting), who considered himself the expert on Chekhov's plays. Chekhov disagreed, as Stanislavski insisted on playing Chekhov's comedies completely straight.
At the age of 20, he wrote a short story called "What's Most Commonly Found In Novels, Novellas etc.". That's right, the guy created a short prototype for This Very Wiki!
Works by Anton Chekhov with their own page on the wiki:
- The Cherry Orchard
- "A Problem"
- Romance with a Double Bass
- The Seagull
- The Shooting Party
- Three Sisters
- Uncle Vanya
- Speed for Thespians, a weird but also surprisingly faithful short film adaptation of Chekhov's one-act play The Bear—in the short the whole play is acted out by an experimental acting troupe on a bus.
Other works by Anton Chekov contain examples of:
- Absurdly High-Stakes Game:
- In the short story "The Bet", after a discussion at a party about whether execution or imprisonment is more humane, a young lawyer makes a bet with a Morally Bankrupt Banker that he can remain in solitary confinement for 15 years. If he wins, he gets 2 million rubles, but if he loses, the banker believes that he will have wasted 15 years of his life.
- Subverted when the banker finds himself substantially poorer, and even contemplates going into the cell and killing the lawyer, only to enter the cell and read the letter the lawyer has written, stating that through the books he has read and the music he enjoyed in confinement, his imagination has allowed him to vicariously enjoy greater pleasures and achieve marvelous feats (in his imagination). The lawyer, fifteen years older and wiser, leaves the cell five minutes before the contract is set to expire, willfully renouncing the banker's wager of two million rubles and rejecting the foolish vanities of wealth, which brings relief to the banker who would have gone broke if the lawyer decided to stay the whole time and take the money.
- Delusions of Eloquence: Informed example — the narrator of the short story "Peasants" characterizes the "hetman" of the village, saying that he is unable to read but had acquired "bookish expressions." The reader never hears much of his speech but is left to imagine that it would be much like this.
- Food Porn:
- "The Siren" is full of lush descriptions of Russian cuisine. It also overlaps with Delicious Distraction in this case.
- "On Mortality: A Carnival Tale" is a several pages of a glorious Food Porn, which suddenly ends with the main character dying of a stroke right before eating the best piece of meal.
- Gone Horribly Right: In the short story "Put too Much Salt", a traveler riding a mailcoach is scared of the large and rough driver and tries to scare him. The traveller sort-of-casually mentions how badass he is, how many weapons he carries, how he loves to fight and that several armed friends will be joining him midway to the next station. The driver thinks he's a bandit and runs away. Leaving the coach in the winter forest in the middle of nowhere with sunset approaching. Fortunately, the driver only hid within earshot and the traveler managed to persuade him it all was a joke.
- Happiness in Slavery: "Peasants" follows a trend of late nineteenth century Russian literature to depict the serfs as having been better off before emancipation.
- Love at First Punch: In the short play The Bear, the boorish Large Ham Smirnov is at first very disdainful to his debtor's widow Popova, finding her prissy and pretentious, but becomes smitten when Popova reveals to be a Hidden Badass.
- Nothing but Skin and Bones: Near the end of "The Bet", the banker goes in to check on the lawyer, and discovers that the lawyer's haggard appearance: his beard and hair are grey, a yellowish face, sunken cheeks, a long and narrow back, and bony hands. In addition, the lawyer is now about 40 years old.
- Opinion Flip Flop: "A Chameleon".
- Self-Restraint: In "The Bet", a young lawyer bets that he could survive fifteen years in a prison, and an older banker offers him a large sum of money if he can spend the whole time in his garden house — a prison with no locks or bars, with only a guard to report that the lawyer has escaped and thus forfeited the bet.
- Was It Really Worth It?: In "The Bet", the young lawyer makes the wager that he can endure 15 years of imprisonment to prove whether imprisonment is more humane than execution. Near the end of the wager, the lawyer has accumulated wisdom from reading the books throughout the years, but when the banker goes to check on him, he has become an old, haggard skeleton-like human with his overgrown grey hair and beard, yellowish skin, sunken cheeks, a long and narrow back, and bony hands. During this time of imprisonment, the lawyer has spent 15 years of his life in voluntary confinement, is about 40 years old, and in addition to his accumulated knowledge, his body has turned into Nothing but Skin and Bones, and might possibly acquire dementia.
- Why Won't You Die?: In "The Bet", as the banker's wager is about to reach its conclusion, the banker finds his fortunes have greatly declined from risky investments on the Exchange and bad investments. Lampshaded by the banker, who is at risk of nearly going bankrupt and losing two million rubles to the lawyer:"That cursed bet... Why didn't the man die? He's only forty years old. He will take away my last farthing, marry, enjoy life, gamble on the Exchange, and I will look on like an envious beggar and hear the same words from him every day: 'I'm obliged to you for the happiness of my life. Let me help you.' No, it's too much! The only escape from bankruptcy and disgraceis that the man should die."