How to Write Like Chekhov: Advice and Inspiration, Straight from His Own Letters and Work

Overview

Maxim Gorky said that no one understood “the tragedy of life’s trivialities” as clearly as Anton Chekhov, widely considered the father of the modern short story and the modern play. Chekhov’s singular ability to speak volumes with a single, impeccably chosen word, mesh comedy and pathos, and capture life’s basic sadness as he entertains us, are why so many aspire to emulate him. How to Write Like Chekhov meticulously cherry-picks from Chekhov’s plays, stories, and letters to his publisher, brother, and friends, ...

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How to Write Like Chekhov: Advice and Inspiration, Straight from His Own Letters and Work

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Overview

Maxim Gorky said that no one understood “the tragedy of life’s trivialities” as clearly as Anton Chekhov, widely considered the father of the modern short story and the modern play. Chekhov’s singular ability to speak volumes with a single, impeccably chosen word, mesh comedy and pathos, and capture life’s basic sadness as he entertains us, are why so many aspire to emulate him. How to Write Like Chekhov meticulously cherry-picks from Chekhov’s plays, stories, and letters to his publisher, brother, and friends, offering suggestions and observations on subjects including plot and characters (and their names), descriptions and dialogue, and what to emphasize and avoid. This is a uniquely clear roadmap to Chekhov’s intelligence and artistic expertise and an essential addition to the writing-guide shelf.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Publishers Weekly, starred online review, 11/3/08
“Makes a thorough guide…An insightful, practical outline of Chekhov’s literary approach. Following Lencek’s intelligent introduction, advice is helpfully broken down by topic…Both Chekhov’s correspondence and his excerpts prove interesting and illustrative…Including a ‘who’s who’ of Chekhov’s pen pals and suggestion for further reading, this is a useful and smart guide for writers of all kinds.”

Augusta Metro Spirit, 11/19/08
“A masterpiece of writing advice…a perfect companion for writers at any stage of the craft.”

The Writer, 2/09
“What’s new and particularly noteworthy in this volume is a focus on lessons to be learned from a close reading of The Island of Sakhalin.”

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Edited by professors Brunello and Lencek, this writing primer makes a thorough guide to the spare, realist style that made Chekhov one of the world's greatest playwrights and short story writers. Drawing specific (and more oblique) literary advice from Chekhov's correspondence and his experimental travel memoir The Island of Sakhalin (perhaps his most ambitious and personal project), the editors develop an insightful, practical outline of Chekhov's literary approach. Following Lencek's intelligent introduction, advice is helpfully broken down by topic, covering general questions of audience, subject and approach ("Witness, Don't Judge"); specific issues like plot, character and emotion ("Knowing How to Suffer"); observation and reporting ("Study the Graffiti"); and "the actual writing" ("Tell Stories as They Were Told"). Both Chekhov's correspondence and his excerpts prove interesting and illustrative, especially the work from Sakhalin that cast him as writer, ethnographer, tourist and census-taker. Including a "who's who" of Chekhov's pen pals and suggestion for further reading, this is a useful and smart guide for writers of all kinds.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569242599
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 11/11/2008
  • Pages: 254
  • Sales rank: 809,727
  • Product dimensions: 8.14 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Piero Brunello is a professor at the University of Venice. Lena Lencek is a professor at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

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Table of Contents


Preface Lena Lencek Lencek, Lena Introduction Piero Brunella Brunella, Piero Introduction Lena Lencek Lencek, Lena Pt. 1 Theory No Plot, No Ending 1
1 General Questions Why Write? 3 For Whom Should One Write? 6 What to Write, How to Write 10 When and How Much to Write 17
2 Specific Questions Truth 21 Descriptions 27 Characters 33 Emotions 40 What to Avoid 43 The Company of Writers 47 Pt. 2 Demonstration Good Shoes and a Notebook 55
3 The Project 57
4 The Report Prerequisites 65 Travel 69 Observe 89 Collect Facts 99
5 The Actual Writing vercoming Initial Difficulties 115 Give the Book a Shape 116 Being Objective 119 Being Truthful 130 Writing Advice 133 Last Things 152 Who's Who in Chekhov's Correspondence 157 Afterword Piero Brunella Brunella, Piero 169 For Further Reading 183 Note 187
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