The Plays of Anton Chekhov

The Plays of Anton Chekhov

by Anton Chekhov, Paul Schmidt


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The action takes place in one of the provinces of Southern Russia. The scene is laid in TIHON'S bar. On the right is the bar-counter and shelves with bottles. At the back is a door leading out of the house. Over it, on the outside, hangs a dirty red lantern. The floor and the forms, which stand against the wall, are closely occupied by pilgrims and passers-by. Many of them, for lack of space, are sleeping as they sit. It is late at night. As the curtain rises thunder is heard, and lightning is seen through the door. TIHON is behind the counter. FEDYA is half-lying in a heap on one of the forms, and is quietly playing on a concertina. Next to him is BORTSOV, wearing a shabby summer overcoat. SAVVA, NAZAROVNA, and EFIMOVNA are stretched out on the floor by the benches

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060928759
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/08/1998
Series: Harper Perennial
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 168,895
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Anton Chekhov was born in Taganrog, in southern Russia, and in his youth paid for his own education and supported his entire family by writing short, satirical sketches of Russian life. Though he eventually became a physician and once considered medicine his principal career, he continued to gain popularity and praise as a writer for various Russian newspapers, eventually authoring more literary work and ultimately his most well-known plays, including Ivanov, The Seagull, and Uncle Vanya. He died of tuberculosis in 1904, and is regarded as one of the best short story writers in history, influencing such authors as Ernest Hemingway, Vladimir Nabokov, and Raymond Carver.

Arthur Rimbaud, born in 1854 in Charleville, France, is hailed as the father of Symbolism. His most famous works of poetry include The Drunken Boat and A Season in Hell. He died in 1891.

Paul Schmidt was, in addition to a translator, a playwright, actor, and author of two books of poetry.

Read an Excerpt

The Plays of Anton Chekhov

By Anton Pavlovich Chekhov

Peter Smith Publisher Inc

Copyright ©1999 Anton Pavlovich Chekhov
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0844669873

Swan Song

A Dramatic Sketch in One Act


Vasily Vasilich Svetlovidov, an actor, about 68 years old
Nikita Ivanich, the prompter, an old man
The action takes place on the stage of a theater in the provinces, late at night, after the show.

The empty stage of a second-rate provincial theater. Right, several crude unpainted doors leading to the dressing rooms; left and rear, piles of backstage junk. Center stage, an overturned stool. It's night. The stage is dark.
Enter from a dressing room Svetlovidov, costumed as Calchas from Offenbach's La Belle Helene, with a candle in his hand.

svetlovidov: Well, if that isn't . . . (A loud laugh) What a joke! I fell asleep in the dressing room! The performance is over, everybody's gone home, and I slept through it all like a baby! Silly old fart. I must be getting old. Had a few too many, and I just sat there and went to sleep. Very smart. Brilliant performance. (Shouts) Yegorka! Yegorka! Where are you, goddamn it? Petrushka! They must've gone home. . . . God damn 'em. Yegorka! (Picks up the stool, sits down on it, and sets the candle on the floor) There's nobody here. Just an echo. I gave each of them a big fat tip today, and now when I need them they're gone.Bastards probably locked up the theater, too. (Shakes his head) Ohh, God! I'm still drunk. I drank too much at the benefit today, all that beer and wine. Jesus. I smell like a brewery. My mouth feels like it's got twenty tongues in it. . . . Ohh! I feel awful.
. . . really stupid. I've gotten to be an old drunk! I got shit-faced at the benefit, and I don't even know whose benefit it was. I feel like someone kicked me in the kidneys, my back is killing me, I've got the shakes . . . cold all over, just like the grave. You don't give a damn about your health, do you? Asshole. You're too old for this anymore.
You're old . . . you can't pretend anymore. No getting away from it this time. Your life is over. Sixty-eight years down the drain, just like that. And it won't come back. The bottle's almost empty, just a little bit left in the bottom. Dregs, that's what it is. That's just the way it is, Vaska, my boy, that's just the way it is. Ready or not, it's time for your final role. The death scene. The undiscovered bourne. (Stares straight ahead) I've been an actor for forty-five years, and this is the first time I've ever been onstage in the middle of the night. Yes. The first time. Curious. It's so dark out there. . . . (Crosses down to the edge of the stage) Can't see a thing. Well, the prompter's box, a little, and the stage boxes, and the conductor's podium . . . All the rest is darkness. A bottomless black hole, just like the grave, and death out there, waiting . . . Brr! It's cold! There's a wind coming from somewhere. . . . You could scare up a ghost out of this darkness. God, I'm scaring myself. My skin's starting to crawl. . . . (Shouts) Yegorka! Petrushka! Where the fucking goddamn hell are you? (Beat) I've got to stop using language like that, I've got to stop drinking, I'm an old man, I'm going to die. . . . Most people get to be sixty-eight, they start going to church again, they start getting ready . . . ready to die. And you--look at you. God! Swearing, getting drunk . . . Look at this stupid costume--how could I want people to see me like this? I better go change. . . . I'm scared. . . . If I stay here the rest of the night, I'll die. (Starts to exit to the dressing room)
(Enter Nikita Ivanich from the dressing room door farthest upstage. He wears a long white dressing gown. Svetlovidov sees him, shrieks with horror, and staggers backward.)
Who's that? Who're you? What do you want? (Stamps his feet) Who is that?
nikita ivanich: It's just me.
svetlovidov: Who're you?
nikita ivanich: (Moving slowly toward him) Me. Nikita Ivanich. The prompter. Vassily Vasilich, it's me!
svetlovidov: (Falls onto the stool, shaking and breathing heavily) Oh, my God . . . Who? Is that you? Is that you, Nikita? Wha . . . what are you doing here?
nikita ivanich: I've been sleeping nights in one of the dressing rooms. Only, please, don't say anything to the manager. . . . I haven't got any other place to go.
svetlovidov: It's just you, Nikita. Oh, my God, my God. I thought . . . (Beat) They had sixteen curtain calls tonight, and bouquets of flowers, and who knows what all, but nobody took the trouble to wake up an old man and help him home. I'm an old man, Nikita. I'm sixty-eight . . . and I'm sick. I don't have any strength left. (Grabs Nikita's hand and starts to cry) Don't leave me, Nikita! I'm old, I'm sick, I'm going to die. . . . I'm scared! I'm so scared!
nikita ivanich: (Gently, respectfully) Vasily Vasilich, it's time for you to go home.
svetlovidov: No, no, I can't! I haven't got a home! I can't! I can't!
nikita ivanich: Oh, dear. Did you forget where you live?
svetlovidov: I won't go back there--I can't! I'll be all alone, Nikita. I haven't got anybody--no wife, no children, no family. I'm all alone; I'm like the wind in an empty field. . . . I'm going to die, and no one will remember me. . . . It's awful to be alone. No one to hug you, keep you warm, put you to bed when you're drunk. . . . Who do I belong to? Does anybody need me? Does anybody love me? Nobody loves me, Nikita!


Excerpted from The Plays of Anton Chekhov by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov Copyright ©1999 by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1(9)
Swan Song
The Bear
The Proposal
The Seagull
A Reluctant Tragic Hero
The Wedding Reception
The Festivities
Uncle Vanya
Three Sisters
The Dangers of Tobacco
The Cherry Orchard

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The Plays Of Anton Chekhov 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
aedwards More than 1 year ago
I'm a big fan of the plays of Anton Chekhov and right now I'm taking an acting class that is centered around him and his more famous works. This translation has shown me new ways to think of the things discussed in Chekhov's seemingly difficult to understand work. This version of Three Sisters is probably my favorite version of the classic play! I like to think of this book as the middle school or high school level translation which means it's just easier for the everyday person to understand :) However if you're looking for a version that's probably a little closer to the original, it's uses more eloquent language and requires more interpretation try the 'Peguin Classics' version that's translated by Peter Carson! Enjoy!
391 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Paul Schmidt's translation - it's very engaging and approachable.
jburlinson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The 2 star rating is for the translation. More to come, when I can get the taste out of my mouth.
pickwick817 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Chekhov's plays are very good, but I was a little dissappointed with this book in comparison to his short stories.
Zebuobo More than 1 year ago
Very good translation into American English.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stringbean53 More than 1 year ago
Paul Schmidt's is the first translation into English which penetrates to the elusive genius, shuttling between comedy and tragedy, which marks Chekhov's great plays. No translation can be letter perfect and in a few places Mr. Schmidt misses the mark, but in so many ways this supplies a missing element which prior translations as good as they were, lacked.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago