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Books Read in 2017-2018 > The Cherry Orchard - Spoilers

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message 1: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3971 comments Mod
Please use this thread to discuss the book freely!


message 2: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments For me it was weird that the play literally goes against Chekhov's idea about "the loaded gun." For those that don't know the reference here are some quotes from him on the subject (taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekhov... ):

_______________________________________________________________________

"Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."[3][4]

"One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn't going to go off. It's wrong to make promises you don't mean to keep." Chekhov, letter to Aleksandr Semenovich Lazarev (pseudonym of A. S. Gruzinsky), 1 November 1889.[5][6][7] Here the "gun" is a monologue that Chekhov deemed superfluous and unrelated to the rest of the play.

"If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there." From Gurlyand's Reminiscences of A. P. Chekhov, in Teatr i iskusstvo 1904, No. 28, 11 July, p. 521.[8]


message 3: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments MJD wrote: "For me it was weird that the play literally goes against Chekhov's idea about "the loaded gun." For those that don't know the reference here are some quotes from him on the subject (taken from http..."

This is a famous concept that has been figuratively and literally followed in other classic plays (Hedda Gabler comes to mind as literally following the rule), but it is weird that Chekhov himself doesn't.


message 4: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Book comparison: To Live

I found it interesting that an old money family fell on hard times and lost their land to someone else who purchased it as the society transferred from a feudal order, as this happened in the book "To Live". I also found it interesting that this transfer of land happened before a Communist revolution in the country where each writing takes place (Russia for "Cherry Orchard" and China for "To Live").

While "Cherry Orchard" ends when the old landowners are left without land and a new owner is gearing up to be a land owner, "To Live" continues its narrative through the revolution where the new owner is killed by Communists, then the Communist leader of the land finds himself on the wrong side of the Cultural Revolution, etc.

While I understand that Chekhov did not see all this coming, I do find it interesting to think that a similar scenario may have worked its way out on the Orchard. It seems to me that the guy that is so happy to own the land at the end of the play could have been killed during the Red Terror https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Terror , and then the civil servant put in place to oversee the land found himself on the wrong side of the Great Purge https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_P... , etc.


message 5: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments MJD wrote: "Book comparison: To Live

I found it interesting that an old money family fell on hard times and lost their land to someone else who purchased it as the society transferred from a feu..."


Apparently someone had the same thoughts I had about how the coming Communist revolution in Russia would shake things up more in the world of the play "The Cherry Orchard" and already wrote a play called "The Cherry Orchard Sequel."

http://www.curtainup.com/cherryorchar...

https://www.theatermania.com/shows/ne...

https://prezi.com/xvred82mbhh8/the-ch...


message 6: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1160 comments I didn't know what to make of this play and didn't really like any of the characters. It is too bad that the trees had to be chopped down to make way for modern villas.
I felt little sympathy for the people who had to sell the house due to mismanagement and spendthrift ways.


message 7: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) Interesting thoughts MJD - I know a smidgen about Russian History that heads towards the 1917 revolution - and got the sense the decades before was the backdrop to this play.

I agree Rosemarie, shame the trees had to be cut down. I got the sense the trees were symbolic of a past that is on its way out. I don’t know if this helps, I think we are supposed to be more enlightened than sympathetic with most of these characters. I think Chekhov was being ironic in how he drew these characters.

I liked this play, especially its energy from the character dynamics.


message 8: by Piyangie (new)

Piyangie | 436 comments I thought the cutting of the trees was a symbolic portrayal of end of an old era (with aristocratic power) and beginning of a new one (where commoners were gradually acquiring power).


message 9: by Inkspill (last edited Aug 09, 2018 01:13AM) (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) Piyangie wrote: "I thought the cutting of the trees was a symbolic portrayal of end of an old era (with aristocratic power) and beginning of a new one (where commoners were gradually acquiring power)."

Yeah - that's right - a past that's on its way out - but nicely described here

Was this a better read for you than Three Sisters?


message 10: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3971 comments Mod
I'm on Act Three of the play. What a cast of whining characters! Will they ever stop?


message 11: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1160 comments They do whine a lot, I agree, Loretta.


message 12: by Loretta, Moderator (last edited Aug 09, 2018 08:16PM) (new)

Loretta | 3971 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "They do whine a lot, I agree, Loretta."

😊 Thanks Rosemarie!


message 13: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) I'm sorry about this, Loretta, Rosemarie, if you get a chance it would be neat to know (that if it's a translation) who it's by

just wondering if something is lost in translation

but this aside, it's neat how we read so differently - which I always find helps me to think about that story more


message 14: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1160 comments The only work of Chekhov's which I truly enjoyed reading is a collection of his letters. He sounds like an amazing person.
I have read a number of his shorter plays and a few short stories, and found that I generally found most of the characters unlikeable and petty.
And yet the author himself was a very authentic and caring person. I think that the society of the time may have been the cause for the disparity.
There was such a huge divide between the upper classes and the peasantry, and between the idle rich and those who actually worked for a living.

And I have noticed that translations do vary widely, Inkspill.


message 15: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Inkspill wrote: "Interesting thoughts MJD - I know a smidgen about Russian History that heads towards the 1917 revolution - and got the sense the decades before was the backdrop to this play.

I agree Rosemarie, sh..."


I think you are on to something when you mention that "I think Chekhov was being ironic in how he drew these characters." From what I read about this play, Chekhov intended this play to be a comedy so it makes sense that he would depict the characters in an ironic tone.

Also, in terms of some characters being "unlikable" as some messages on this thread point out, I think that that falls in line with the Aristotelian conception of comedy found in his work Poetics, in which he states in Part V:

"Comedy is, as we have said, an imitation of characters of a lower
type- not, however, in the full sense of the word bad, the ludicrous being merely a subdivision of the ugly. It consists in some defect or ugliness which is not painful or destructive. To take an obvious example, the comic mask is ugly and distorted, but does not imply pain."


message 16: by Piyangie (new)

Piyangie | 436 comments I agree with Rosemarie and Inkspill about the translations. I've tried couple of audio books before finally reading a Dover edition. They were all quite different from each other. I didn't know if I read a proper version of the Cherry Orchard, but the Dover edition was reader friendly.


message 17: by Piyangie (new)

Piyangie | 436 comments Inkspill wrote: "Yeah - that's right - a past that's on its way out - but nicely described here

Was this a better read for you than Three Sisters? ..."



I think I enjoyed Cherry Orchard more than the Three Sisters, although both have thematic similarities.


message 18: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Piyangie wrote: "I agree with Rosemarie and Inkspill about the translations. I've tried couple of audio books before finally reading a Dover edition. They were all quite different from each other. I didn't know if ..."

Where there any glaring differences that stuck out for you?


message 19: by Piyangie (new)

Piyangie | 436 comments Inkspill wrote: "I don’t know if this helps, I think we are supposed to be more enlightened than sympathetic with most of these characters. I think Chekhov was being ironic in how he drew these characters..."

I agree with you there, Inkspill. Chekhov wanted to portray a time where the aristocratic power and influence were dying and how the nobility were trying to hold on to their bygone era of glory. He also was bringing to light the emergence of a new generation of wealthy commoners who claim ownership from once rich and powerful aristocrats thus reducing their social power and influence.


message 20: by Piyangie (new)

Piyangie | 436 comments MJD wrote: "Piyangie wrote: "I agree with Rosemarie and Inkspill about the translations. I've tried couple of audio books before finally reading a Dover edition. They were all quite different from each other. ..."


Yes, MJD. I found that the wording of each translation to be quite different.


message 21: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) Rosemarie wrote: "The only work of Chekhov's which I truly enjoyed reading is a collection of his letters. He sounds like an amazing person.
I have read a number of his shorter plays and a few short stories, and fou..."


That sounds amazing - I just finished reading one of his short stories, so different - for a moment I thought nothing happened but when I thought about it it hit me how the story is actually rich and complex


message 22: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) MJD wrote: "I think you are on to something when you mention that "I think Chekhov was being ironic in how he drew these characters." From what I read about this play, Chekhov intended this play to be a comedy so it makes sense that he would depict the characters in an ironic tone."

Chekhov's approach is interesting for me because I think he's so modest in how he uses it. Such a light hand - that it would be easy to miss.

MJD wrote: "IAlso, in terms of some characters being "unlikable" as some messages on this thread point out, I think that that falls in line with the Aristotelian conception of comedy found in his work Poetics, in which he states in Part V:

"Comedy is, as we have said, an imitation of characters of a lower
type- not, however, in the full sense of the word bad, the ludicrous being merely a subdivision of the ugly. It consists in some defect or ugliness which is not painful or destructive. To take an obvious example, the comic mask is ugly and distorted, but does not imply pain.""


I can't comment about Poetics (must make a point to read it sometime) but what you quote fits. I also thought Chekhov regarding this as a comedy was really in terms of how it used to be seen, rather than how we understand it today.

Well, that was my take on it.


message 23: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) Piyangie wrote: "Inkspill wrote: "Yeah - that's right - a past that's on its way out - but nicely described here

Was this a better read for you than Three Sisters? ..."

I think I enjoyed Cherry Orchard more than the Three Sisters, although both have thematic similarities. "


Yes, I noticed this, like the idea of working is being good and being healthy but not working means you are lazy.


message 24: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) Translations

can't be easy, especially with a language like Russian.

If I had the time I would read it in different ones and see if that changes the story - wouldn't that be intersting to know?


message 25: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) | 429 comments I finished reading just about an hour ago. I read a collection of four of the most important plays by Chekhov, and I have to say this is the one I liked best. I liked "Three Sisters", too, which might also be due to the fact that I had the opportunity to see it staged several years ago - it was a wonderful staging and I remembered some of it while reading.

But "The Cherry Orchard" is my favorite. I agree with Inkspill and Piyangie - the cutting of the trees is clearly symbolic of the end of an era and the rise of a new one. I would also say that it is not only aristocracy vs. nouveaux riches, but also past vs. future in a more personal way. Ljubov' Andreevna links the cherry orchard to the past, to her early years, to childhood, to her memories. This is all ended by the cutting of the trees. I think the ending is very powerful: we can hear the trees being cut, we see old Firs being left behind, locked in the house.

Yes, the characters are whining, but I agree with MJD that this must have been exactly what Chekhov had in mind. After all, he called this play a "comedy" and not a "tragedy", as one might be led to think from the outcome. But he is ironic, that's why he portrays the characters as whining. I especially liked Gaev, with his pomposity, and found him the most ironic of all.

Obviously this is just my opinion, I'm no literary critic :)


message 26: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3971 comments Mod
Marina (Sonnenbarke) wrote: "I finished reading just about an hour ago. I read a collection of four of the most important plays by Chekhov, and I have to say this is the one I liked best. I liked "Three Sisters", too, which mi..."

Nice summary Marina. 😊


message 27: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3971 comments Mod
Glad to that many members enjoyed this play!

I just wanted to thank you all for your great discussions on the play! Very thought provoking! 😊


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