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Seeing Chekhov: Life and Art

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Overview

"Chekhov's keen powers of observation have been remarked by both memoirists who knew him well and scholars who approach him only through the written record and across the distance of many decades. To apprehend Chekhov means seeing how Chekhov sees, and the author's remarkable vision is understood as deriving from his occupational or professional training and identity. But we have failed to register, let alone understand, just what a central concern for Chekhov himself, and how deeply problematic, were precisely issues of seeing and being seen."—from the IntroductionMichael C. Finke explodes a century of critical truisms concerning Chekhov's objective eye and what being a physician gave him as a writer in a book that foregrounds the deeply subjective and self-reflexive aspects of his fiction and drama. In exploring previously unrecognized seams between the author's life and his verbal art, Finke profoundly alters and deepens our understanding of Chekhov's personality and behaviors, provides startling new interpretations of a broad array of Chekhov's texts, and fleshes out Chekhov's simultaneous pride in his identity as a physician and devastating critique of turn-of-the-century medical practices and ideologies. Seeing Chekhov is essential reading for students of Russian literature, devotees of the short story and modern drama, and anyone interested in the intersection of literature, psychology, and medicine.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Chekhov was a master at deflecting critical attention away from his own personality, both in his writing and in his private life. But he reckoned without the supreme forensic skills of a scholar such as Michael C. Finke, who seeks to probe beneath the layers of dusty cliché that have accumulated during the past century. In his incisive new book, Finke lays Chekhov bare by marshaling an impressive arsenal of analytical tools and by playing the writer at his own game, using X-ray vision to penetrate the unexpected points of contact between the life and the creative work. It is exhilarating to see Chekhov through Finke's eyes."—Rosamund Bartlett, author of Chekhov: Scenes from a Life

"Michael C. Finke has written an outstanding and innovative piece of work: a psychobiography of Chekhov the man and writer based on deep and sensitive readings of the Russian author's prose, plays, and letters, and of extensive biographical writings and materials. Thoroughly informed, Finke does not merely talk 'about' Chekhov or rehash general ideas, but opens up an unknown Chekhov, or, in any case, aspects of the man that the writer, Chekhov, rigorously guarded, and that have hitherto been seen or described mostly from the outside, and apart from Chekhov's writing and poetics. 'Seeing, being seen, hiding and showing,' in Finke's words, are signal concepts for exploring Chekhov the man and the writer. Here is a book that will interest both a wide range of specialists and the interested general reader."—Robert Louis Jackson, B. E. Bensinger Professor Emeritus of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Yale University

"In Seeing Chekhov, Michael C. Finke succeeds in integrating Chekhov's life and work, his art and his science, his role as a physician and as a patient, as a dramatist and a prose writer, the personal and the professional, the pseudonyms that efface his identity and those that all but proclaim it. Chekhov's preference for not being seen, as it turns out, demands that we examine his strategies of hiding rather than obligingly averting our eyes. The payoff in terms of insight into Chekhov's poetics is enormous."—Cathy Popkin, Lionel Trilling Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801443152
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Table of Contents

1 To be seen or not to be seen 18
2 Looking the part 51
3 Self and other through the lens of science 99
4 Erotic and mythic visions 139
Conclusion : seeing Chekhov's things 172
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