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Plays: The Seagull/Uncle Vanya/Three Sisters/The Cherry Orchard (Methuen)

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,333 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
This volume includes The Seagull, a about the battle for power between a mother and her son which ends in tragedy; Uncle Vanya tells of two obsessive love affairs that lead nowhere, and a flirtation that brings disaster; Three Sisters in which three siblings wrestle with their futures and The Cherry Orchard where the old must inevitably give way to the new. Haunting and el ...more
paper, 464 pages
Published July 14th 1988 by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama (first published 1962)
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This edition has a good, thorough, introduction as well as a very useful note on the translation. As Frayn puts it in the note on the translation knowing Russian and being a playwright is an advantage in translating Chekhov's plays, and who would have thought that - an amazing idea.

Reading the plays for the first time in many years the irony comes through very strongly, but maybe that's just one of the strengths of this translation which, in British English at least, comes across as easy and nat
Aug 17, 2014 Miguel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Num acesso de curiosidade, decidi estrear-me na dramaturgia como leitor. Sustentado e apoiado por opiniões alheias, acreditei que Anton Tchékhov se ajustava às minhas imposições: qualidade, excelência e escrita exemplar. Em teoria, não fui defraudado, mas os nomes russos dos personagens, em virtude da sua complexidade, afligiram-me com tal força que, às tantas, grande parte do período de leitura foi empregue a consultar o índice, que os introduzia de forma arrumada. Obrigado Relógio de Água!

Jan 01, 2016 J.M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Warm-blooded humans
December of Drama 2015, days 28-31

Let's tackle these one by one.


"You feared a lonely death
Like a lake leaves you alone in her depths."
--bodyache, by Purity Ring

So a lot of admirers of Chekhov praise him for his success in "direct" and "honest" drama, and his instigation of a new era or new forms in drama, and I'd agree with all that. But I think what's lost in the conversation is the content, the ideas he incorporated in the plays themselves. There is a personally resonant kind of pessimi
Jun 24, 2016 Xana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jul 04, 2013 Pedro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
If modern theatre is considered an intellectual pastime not fit for the consumption of the casual viewer, then Tchékhov's plays strike at the heart of drama's subtetlies. And rightly so for the plays, filled with undersayings, carve a complex structure out of the amalgam of thoughts and feelings that litter the human psyche.
It would be unfair, though, to describe the pieces as an unintelligible rant. In fact, the plots and characters are robust and strongly developed and despite the apparent may
Diana Polansky
Apr 22, 2007 Diana Polansky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chekhov is a master.

Carol Rocamora rocks. I had her as a professor twice. She is so extraordinarily passionate about Russian literature that she seemed to become 30-40 years younger while teaching...and when she talked about Checkhov's dacha, I was able to "see" it.

The only thing I don't like about this translation is that though Carol retains Chekhov's poetry, her translation is a little too "American colloquial" at times. If I spoke Russian, I could explain this in detail, but as my only claim
Feb 20, 2008 matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

These plays move me in a way which I can't describe. Or, rather, I probably could but it would be endless and personal and boring.

I think this is modern suburbia in embryo; it is also, of course, seeped in "The Russian Character."

I love Dostoevsky and Tolstoy with a deep passion but there's really no one quite like Chekhov. For that thin tissue of humanity billowing in the wind over the void "thing" he's the one you want.

How much life do we lose, in living? How much have we lost already?

Dec 03, 2009 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had an audition for 'Cherry Orchard' so I thought I would read all four major plays to check off Chekhov from my list.
I liked these a lot better than I thought I would, but this is partly because I had tried to read them before in a different translation and just couldn't maintain interest. These are pretty new translations by Carol Rocamora and they read pretty well. I felt like I could understand what was happening a little better, and the humor came out more. I think I like 'Uncle Vanya' t
Sep 03, 2009 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only read "The Seagull" this time around. Have read "The Cherry Orchard" and "Uncle Vanya" previously. Will have to get to "Three Sisters" another day.

One thing I liked was that this was an up-to-date American translation. No musty period pieces here. This helped bring out the farcial aspects of the play. After all, Chekhov himself called it "A Comedy in Four Acts." Plus, "The Seagull" contains (part of) a play within the play, which is very easy to mock.

Overall, not as strong as his later wor
Aug 29, 2012 Vicki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've lived with these plays since college, and revisit them through live theater or film. Just watched The Sea Gull directed by Sidney Lumet, with Vanessa Redgrave, James Mason, David Warner - extraordinary! Vanya on 42nd Street with Wallace Shawn and Julianne Moore is a brilliant take on Uncle Vanya. Sheer genius, I never tire of the insights and perfect use of language in these plays.
Jan 16, 2016 Inertiatic85 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quello che mi ha colpito di più leggendo questi quattro capolavori di Čechov è la semplicità, la semplicità di una realtà che poteva essere vera, tangibile, quotidiana, nella quale potersi ritrovare ancora oggi. Questa semplicità non vive nella trama, ma nei personaggi, straordinariamente moderni. I sogni delle tre sorelle (Olga, Masa e Irina) sono identici ancora oggi, così come è vero che a volte il quotidiano ci trascina via, ci lascia cullare in sogni che un giorno ci accorgeremo di non pote ...more
Oleg Kagan
I read Uncle Vanya for my Russian Literature Reading Group, and though I have seen The Seagull and Cherry Orchard before I did not read them this time around. I have yet to see or read Three Sisters.

As for Vanya, it has a similar quality to the other plays - a houseful of restlessness, anxiety over the passage of time, unrequited love, all of which are at times emotionally moving and at times dreary and boring. Nothing much happens in Uncle Vanya -- it is mostly exposition until Serebrekov decid
Feb 03, 2010 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's good to read a book that is more than simple entertainment. These plays are filled with humor (albeit dry, Russian humor) and poverty and social struggles.
I used Sparknotes to get others' ideas regarding Seagull. I tried to just breeze through Three Sisters, but didn't get into it at all. I decided to take notes on the characters in Cherry Orchard and read Sparknotes for themes, etc. The extra work on Cherry Orchard paid off. Yesterday, I met with some city officials regarding a property in
Jul 18, 2013 Rachi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2013
Quisiera que los rusos no tuvieran esa manía de tener 5 nombres diferentes para cada personaje. Entiendo que así sea su cultura o costumbre o lo que sea pero me es algo frustrante que apenas me sepa los nombres de cada personaje y sepa diferenciarlos, y tres páginas después se acaba la obra.
En fin.
En cuanto al libro como tal, ay. Chéjov le impregna ese toque melancólico y como de reproche hacia su sociedad a sus obras y es justo eso lo que las hace remarcables.
Este fue el primer libro que leo
Jan 22, 2012 Artemisia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia
Il gabbiano
TRIGORIN: (fra sé) Se un giorno avrai bisogno della mia vita, vieni e prendila.

Zio Vanja
SONJA: Zio Vanja, vivremo. Vivremo una lunga, lunga fila di giorni, di lente serate: sopporteremo pazientemente le prove che il destino ci manderà; lavoreremo per gli altri. [...] Riposeremo. Sentiremo gli angeli, vedremo il cielo che sfolgorerà di diamanti, vedremo tutto il male della terra e tutte le nostre sofferenze annegare nella misericordia che inonderà il mondo...e la nostra vita diventerà
Eliza Malakoff
Jun 11, 2013 Eliza Malakoff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-final

"I love him (Trigorin)! I love him even more than before...A subject for a short story...I love him, I love him passionately, I love him to despair. It was nice in old days, Kostya! Do you remember? How clear, warm, joyous and pure life was, what feelings we had - feelings like tender, exquisite flowers...Do you remember?"

This is a beautiful piece of dialogue that captures how damaged Nina is. She loves Trigorin and wishes for a time when she did not, when she was younger and more naiv
Sep 07, 2010 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I didn't read this exact book, it was actually a really old copy of just his four greatest plays (trivia: can you name them?) Obviously the Cherry Orchard (I know you got that, Ms. Daniels), and The Sea Gull, Uncle Vanya, and 3 Sisters. What I really liked what that Checkov gives you a brief glance into realistic human behavior, and at different points in the drama, one character or another will step back and say, "What is life all about anyway? Why are we living this way? Can't we change any ...more
Sep 23, 2015 Brendan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only read the last play, "The Cherry Orchard". Someday I will go back and read the rest. I have nothing insightful to say. A lot of the play seems to have a serious tone; it can be read that way. However, it is a comedy and I think it deserves that title. There are quite a few moments where it might seem like we are meant to cry but we are actually meant to laugh. I guess this play shows how fine a line exists between comedy and tragedy.
Dominic Carrillo
Nov 30, 2015 Dominic Carrillo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As of right now, Anton Chekov is my favorite Russian writer of all time. He is wise, interesting, and gets right to the point. He can do in 10 pages what most writers can't do in 100. He gives us a keen glimpse into late 19th century Russian life but, more importantly, hits on rich universal truths for all people in all time periods.
Jan 21, 2016 Elise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'll be honest, I hardly read this. I tried. And then I used Wikipedia to cheat starting on the third, and even on the fourth I couldn't even find Wikipedia interesting. I just don't really get these, and I don't find them interesting. They don't seem to have any cohesive plot, they're just weird. So yeah...
Mar 25, 2016 Thomasin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading a play always seems a bit wrong to me; I know I'm missing essentials. Still worthwhile, of course. And Chekhov is a necessary read in many ways. Enjoyed the latter two plays in the book (Three Sisters and Uncle Vanya) more than the first two (Cherry Orchard and Sea Gull). Underlined many sections. Not the most comforting or thrilling reads, but feel a sense of accomplishment hence the four stars vs three.
Joshua Stephen
Mar 24, 2015 Joshua Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone of these plays is a great read. Chekhov deserves every accolade his receives and these plays demonstrate why.
Annikka K
Käytiin katsomassa Vanja-eno Kansallisteatterissa ja luin tän taas. Niin näytelmänä kuin luettunakin parasta mitä on.
Jul 26, 2009 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm ashamed to say that I had never read any Chekhov before this year. I decided that as an aspiring playwright, I had better get around to doing so. I loved these plays, especially "Uncle Vanya" and "The Cherry Orchard." The threat of foreclosure and ruin that hovers over the formerly affluent characters in these two plays was reminiscent of our current moment in history. The dialogue is beautiful to read. . . I now want to see more Chekhov plays actually in production. I didn't love the produc ...more
Ayne Ray
Sep 25, 2009 Ayne Ray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best works of the Russian playwright who was also an acclaimed short story writer. Interestingly, although he gained great fame from his plays, he was at odds with director Constantine Stanislavsky (most well-known for the acting style that famously became known as "The Method," a realistic approach in which actors attempt to use their own emotions in portraying their characters); Chekhov considered the plays comedies, while Stanislavsky's productions tended to emphasize their tragic element ...more
Rebekah Puddington
There's a lot of good stuff in these plays - think I'd like them even better on a rereading. Ought to come back to them soon(ish).
Aug 15, 2014 h rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i should really space chekhov out more. man.
Mar 16, 2016 Mpc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Le tre sorelle.
Aug 13, 2012 Joshua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though some have complained about Curt Columbus' new "American translations" of these iconic plays, I found that they maintained all of the baroque edifice that characterizes Chekhov's dramas, but transposed it into a more immediately relatable medium (think Wes Anderson rather than Jane Austen). By taking seriously the task of translating "for the stage," Columbus' versions read well aloud and maintain some of Chekhov's vibrancy in the original Russian texts without sacrificing the content.
Paul Jellinek
Oct 23, 2012 Paul Jellinek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK, I confess--I just don't get it. These are good plays, sure, but I simply don't understand the veneration with which everyone from Wallace Shawn to George Kennan regards these plays. Maybe it's the translation, or maybe I don't have the necessary Russian sensibility. This is probably the third or fourth time that I've read Uncle Vanya and The Cherry Orchard (I'd read the others once before), still hoping for the light to come on--but so far it hasn't. Maybe next time?
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Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was born in the small seaport of Taganrog, southern Russia, the son of a grocer. Chekhov's grandfather was a serf, who had bought his own freedom and that of his three sons in 1841. He also taught himself to read and write. Yevgenia Morozova, Chekhov's mother, was the daughter of a cloth merchant.

"When I think back on my childhood," Chekhov recalled, "it all seems quite glo
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