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The Major Plays

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  5,123 Ratings  ·  140 Reviews
Anton Chekhov
The Major Plays

Ivanov * The Sea Gull * Uncle Vanya * The Three Sisters * The Cherry Orchard

“Let the things that happen onstage be just as complex and yet just as simple as they are in life,” Chekhov once declared. “For instance, people are having a meal, just having a meal, but at the same time, their happiness is being created, or their lives are being smashe
Mass Market Paperback, 406 pages
Published December 5th 2006 by Signet (first published 1964)
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Ken Moten
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of good plays/Russian literature/mankind
"Of most importance was that he was always sincere, which is a great thing for a writer; and thanks to his sincerity Chekhov created new, totally new forms of writing." - Leo Tolstoy

"I THINK that in Anton Chekhov's presence every one involuntarily felt in himself a desire to be simpler, more truthful, more one's self; I often saw how people cast off the motley finery of bookish phrases, smart words, and all the other cheap tricks with which a Russian, wishing to figure as a European, adorns him
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading, as opposed to seeing Chekhov is quite a strange experience because of his impressionistic technique - nothing is explained, everything is surface, the opposite of the great classic novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky which are all psychology. There are motifs, as in poetry, which emerge or sink into the narrative. The dialogue is so ambiguous, so flexible, that the variety of interpretations that theatre companies can bring to the plays seems to be endless, judging from Anatoly Smeliansky' ...more
Jun 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't think that this translation is the one that I was familiar with and can't recommened one translation in particular.

Chekhov has a had a strange fate in English in that his plays - judging by revivals of Ivanov - seem to be more valued than his short stories. It seems as though Chekhov's plays have tapped into a particular British nostalgia which doesn't help us to understand them in their own context. Chekhov wasn't a solidly middle-class Edwardian Englishman reflecting on a world that ha
Feb 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
I must confess that classical Russian authors scare me. I believe that is why my Dostoevsky collection and most of my Tolstoy have remained untouched for all these years. When I reached for Chekhov I didn’t know what to expect. The only thing I was certain of was that I wanted to see The Sea Gull in London. The plan was to actually read just that one play and carry on with my life. However, after reading the foreword by Robert Brustein I just couldn’t – and I am glad I didn’t.
"You're a clever ma
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
"BORKIN [sighing]: Our life-. Man's life is like a bright flower blooming in a meadow. A goat comes along and eats it up. No more flower."

That is to say, it is all meaningless.

"Ivanov" is quite a mixture of sour humor and misery for all.


"The Seagull" touches existential questioning and crisis - not only the meaning of life but of life as an artist.

Again it is all pretty banal and meaningless in-between moments of self evaluation (or lack thereof).


A wasted life preoccupies “Uncle Vanya”. It
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

- "You're a clever man: think. According to you, nothing could be simpler than to understand me! Yes? . . . . Man is such a simple, uncomplicated machine! No, Doctor; in every one of us there are far too many wheels, screws, and valves for us to be able to judge one another by first impressions, or by two or three external signs. I don't understand you, you don't understand me, and we don't understand ourselves. It is possible to be an excellent doctor - and at the same time to know
Apr 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, plays
Livada de visini ****
* Mi s-a parut cea mai sensibila, poate pentru ca sentimentul pierderii e aici foarte evident si puternic: livada de visini e vinduta in cele din urma si intreaga familie e privata de locul cel mai drag lor, pierderea livezii putind echivala cu pierderea sperantelor, desi in final Trofimov exclama: “Viata noua, te salutam!” Sau poate, intr-un ton mult mai mundan, pierderea livezii echivaleaza cu noua ordine sociala ce se instala in Rusia vremii respective.

Trei surori ****
* O
İş Bankası, Çehov'un tüm uzun oyunlarını Ataol Behramoğlu çevirisi ile bir araya getirerek o kadar şahane bir iş yapmış ki! Çehov, çok zevk alarak okuduğum bir yazar, bu kitapta da en sevdiğim olarak adlandırabileceğim iki oyun yer alıyor: Vanya Dayı ve Üç Kız Kardeş. Bu oyunlar haricinde kitaptaki oyunlar şunlar: Ivanov, Orman Cini, Martı ve Vişne Bahçesi.

Okuyanlara ya da okuyacaklara hemen belirteyim, Orman Cini, Vanya Dayı'nın taslağı olarak nitelendirilebilir. Oyun beğenilmeyince Çehov kara
Nov 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This book consists of five different plays. As I read each one, I just wrote down my thoughts:

Ivanov: a disillusioned landowner is fed up with his life. Really, he just over-thinks everything and has given up on trying to be happy. There is a lot of fussing over Ivanov and his choices - ever since his marriage to a "Jewess" who gave up her family and religion to be with him, he's gone emotionally downhill. There is a lot of men crying in this play and if I had to give it a theme or a point, I th
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-read
I was young, full of fire, sincere, no fool; I loved, I hated and I believed, but not like other men, I worked and I had hopes for ten, I tilted at windmills and beat my head against walls.... And tell me: could it have been otherwise? There are so few of us, and so much, so much to do! God, how much to do! And now the life against which I struggled is taking this cruel vengeance on me! I've worn myself out! ... Before you stands a man of thirty-five, disillusioned and crushed by his worth
Vanja Antonijevic
There is something special about Chekhov. I would have to admit that Dostoevsky and Tolstoy may be greater writers than he is, but it seems that no writer has been able to produce a certain Russian spirit, tone, and sentiment as well as Chekhov in his writings. To put it simply, his plays and short stories have more "soul" and "heart" to them than anything else I have read. The Russian Shakepeare is my second favorite Russian author (after Dostoevsky), and is an underappreciated genius in his ow ...more
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 19th-century
What a fantastic collection of plays! Every one of them was a masterpiece.
I particularly loved the nuanced naturalism of the characters. They were all , of course, intelligently reflective and the women were all substantial and equal to the men in every way. How refreshing! My only misgiving was that I wanted to tell them not to be so defined by their past and that today is a new day.
Wonderful. I am so happy I finally picked this up off my bookshelf. Now to find a theatre company performing o
Apr 28, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
I'm ok with these, but I muc prefer Chekhov as a short story writer. His plays are so delicate, that you just know you're losing something due to the translations.
Oct 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This collection of five plays by Chekhov makes me hungry to read his short stories now. I think that Chekhov's playwriting style can best be summarized in his own words: "Let the things that happen on stage be just as complex and yet just as simple as they are in life. For instance, people are having a meal, just having a meal, but at the same time their happiness is being created, or their lives are being smashed up." How very true -- for us all! Part of the beauty of Chekhov's playwriting is h ...more
Alp Turgut
Anton Pavloviç Çehov'un altı büyük oyununu (İvanov, Orman Cini, Vanya Dayı, Martı, Üç Kızkardeş, Vişne Bahçesi) sırasıyla tek bir ciltte barındıran "Büyük Oyunlar", büyük ustanın oyun yazarlığındaki becerisini görmek için tek kelimeyle harika bir toplama. Oyunlarında genellikle taşra yaşamının yok ettiği aydınları konu alan Çehov'un eleştiri odağında ise daima yaşanılan hayat, toplumsal çevren ve taşra yaşamı bulunuyor. Okudukça hayran kaldığınız toplama eserin tek problemi ise usta yazarın oyun ...more
Daniel Klawitter
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the great playwrights of course. My favorite play in this collection is Ivanov. Here are some snippets:

"This life of ours...human life is like a flower gloriously blooming in a meadow: along comes a goat, eats it up---no more flower."

"I am beginning to think that fate has cheated me Doctor. There are a great many people, perhaps no better than I, who are happy without having had to pay for their happiness."

"Scientists have been thinking about this since the world began, but they haven't
Dec 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of stellar plays was my first experience with Chekhov yet most certainly not my last. The fact that he was writing these over 100 years ago is totally unfathomable. His works have a certain freshness that transcends the period. Of course today, his old homage, that if a gun is present in the first act of a Chekhov play it will go off in the last, is quite cliched, it was relatively original in its own time.

In fact, I thought the underlying philosophies of Chekhov's plays were a
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of Chekhov's major and most well-known plays has to be one of my most valued possessions. Each story is unique, each plot has its own theme, the characters could undoubtedly have existed and not just been imagined. Chekhov's plays seem to have a strong effect on me, I could see myself on his characters, I could sympathize with their actions and the setting would have me instantly on board.
I'd love to read more of his work, especially his short stories, for which as well he is hig
Benjamin Wallsten
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Amazing! Stupendous! Russian literature at its finest!

I am always left wanting more from Chekhov (too bad his life was cut short by a disease we, ironically, can prevent today - it's oddly reminiscent of what one of the characters in Chekhov's "The Three Sisters" - Vershinin - is constantly saying about the future being better than the present). This volume simply enlarges that desire.

If you love Chekhov, you must read this book. It gives you the 5 major plays that made Anton Chekhov into the fa
Benjamin Plume
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
Fantastic. I am not one who generally likes to read plays (preferring to read novels and watch plays) but Chekhov is an, possibly the, exception. Each of the five plays had a unique feature that grabbed me, and this volume features some lines that instantly became favorites. If you are someone who loves plays, this is a must. If not, you might want to give it a shot anyway.
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009
I love reading Chekhov's short stories. I love reading plays. I should love reading Chekhov's plays, right? Apparently not. These completely failed to interest me. I actually fell asleep several times while trying to get through this book. I'll stick with the short stories.
Dec 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot rationally explain my obsession with this man and his plays. His life is a fascination in and of itself, but his plays are full of real characters, with blood in their veins and mortality on their minds. They are confused, brittle, funny and frank. I cannot help but love them.
May 19, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Play after play ending with one or more of the characters going downstage and shooting themselves. Enough, already!
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I suspect this edition of Chekhov's major plays is basically an update of the tattered old paperback I just read with its superb introduction by Robert Brustein, who expertly anatomizes Chekhov's mastery of understated stagecraft and downplayed melodrama.

But I don't reread Chekhov every once in a while for introductions, which I generally avoid, or afterwords, which I generally avoid, or blurbs on the dust jacket. Chekhov for me is the master of the day-to-day dullness and frustrations of life,
Wayne Lai
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
There is something magical about plays, especially when they are written by Anton Chekhov, one of the greatest dramatists and short story writers. There are a lot of miseries in the stories, experienced by unhappy characters. That's not to say that they are not enjoyable, quite the contrary in fact. It feels... cathartic.

'Ivanov' is plain misery, the main character who seemingly has no redeeming quality, is very easy for reader to relate to, whereas the other character, Eugene Lvov, who is a doc
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A two-day dose of Chekhov's major plays runs the gamut of feelings of hopelessness, love, desperation, melancholy, amusement... And although written one hundred twenty years ago, his words are relevant today:
"He says that forests beautify the earth, that they teach man to understand beauty and induce in him a nobility of mind."
And he goes on: "Now I could accept the cutting of wood out of need, but why devastate the forests?...One would have to be a reckless barbarian to burn this beauty in his
Beebie May Hutley
I only read The Cherry Orchard from this Penguin Classics book of Anton Chekov plays. I’m attending the Press Night of the play at Nottingham Playhouse on Tuesday 7th November so I thought I ought to read it beforehand.

I’m crap at reading classics.

I just don’t enjoy them….UNLESS I study them, and then I love them. If I’m being completely honest, I found The Cherry Orchard painfully dull. Not a lot seems to happen. The reason I gave it three stars and not one star is because I haven’t yet researc
Total: 2.4 stars

Ivanov - 2 stars

The Seagull - 1.5 stars

Uncle Vanya - 2.5 stars

Three Sisters - 3 stars

The Cherry Orchard - 3 stars
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think my love for Chekov actually comes from my current state of lolling and malaise of ease.
He just seems to illuminate the true nothingness that perhaps is life.
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Anton Pavlovich Chekhov [Russian: Антон Павлович Чехов] 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 r
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“NINA: ...what's important is...the ability to endure. To be able to bear one's cross and have faith. I have faith, and it's not so painful now, and when I think of my vocation, I'm not afraid of life.” 6 likes
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