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206Rocky Mountain Review in this volume are not without shortcomings, the book as a whole is certainly a solid contribution to Mann scholarship. RUDOLF KOESTER University ofNevada, Las Vegas ROBERT LOUIS JACKSON, ed. Reading Chekhov's Text. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1993. 258 p. Heading Chekhov's Text is a very nicely put together volume of mostly new Chekhov material. All but one of the seventeen critical essays are new (the other, Nils Ake Nilsson's contribution is slightly adapted from a 1968 study); the critical studies are supplemented by reprints ofbiographical material by Ivan Bunin and by Chekhov himself. Professor Jackson deserves the major share of credit for the excellence of the volume: for his organization of the material, and for his introduction which, in this reviewer's opinion , is the best contribution in the book. The nineteen items in the volume are grouped according to broad thematic affinities, under six headings: "About Chekhov," "Breakdowns in Communication," "The Sacred and the Profane," "Fate and Responsibility," "Echoes and Allusions," and "The Parodie and the Prosaic." The first thing the Introduction does is to draw out the implications of the book's title: that too much Chekhov criticism, until relatively recently, has failed to "read Chekhov's text" in any very meaningful way, and that it is the aim of the collection to present studies that move us toward a fuller understanding of the richness of both meaning and style that can be found in Chekhov. As one would expect, the essays in this volume vary in their degree of success in answering to the editor's implied demands on modern Chekhov criticism, but taken as a whole, they do make a convincing case for the complexity and profundity of Chekhov's oeuvre on which Jackson insists , and provide interesting, suggestive, often convincing approaches to teasing out the meaning of Chekhov's text and demonstrating its "poetic" character. In the rest of the Introduction, the editor gives a brief but shrewd summary /commentary on each of the articles in turn, along the way providing cogent comment on the literary-historical context of several of the thematic groupings: for "About Chekhov" he discusses the varying images of Chekhov; for "The Sacred and the Profane" he sums up Chekhov's relationship to religion in general and to the Russian Orthodox tradition in particular ; for "Fate and Responsibility" he points out how Chekhov's insistence on "man's freedom and its correlative, responsibility" (12) places Chekhov squarely in the nineteenth-century Russian literary tradition. Professor Jackson comments on one of the essays: "Not every reader will willingly follow [the author] every step of his . . . way, but as Dr. Dorn . . . says of Konstantin Treplev's play-within-a-play, 'There's something in it'" (7). From Book Reviews207 my point of view, much the same could be said of several of the articles in the book. Jackson's introductory comments, however, clarify how the given article deepens our understanding of Chekhov, and in some cases these editiorial remarks themselves add a further dimension of understanding. The first section, "About Chekhov," begins with Chekhov's thumbnail autobiographical sketch (an excerpt from a letter responding to a publisher's request) and a slightly abridged translation of Bunin's "In Memory of Chekhov." The inclusion of this material is a nice touch; it reinforces the image of Chekhov as both uncompromising artist and gentle humanist, an image that Jackson emphasizes in his introduction; and the ironic and reticent modesty of Chekhov's half-page "autobiography" contrasts nicely with the encomiastic tone of Bunin's tribute. The rest of "About Chekhov" consists of two articles that focus more on aspects of Chekhov's psyche, as reflected in some of his works and letters, than on his art. The critical essays embrace almost the whole chronological range of Chekhov's works, from one of his earliest "serious" stories, the 1883 story "V more" (At Sea), to his next-to-last completed story, "Arkhierei" (The Bishop, 1902). With one exception, Marena Senderovich's "Chekhov's Name Drama," the essays are each devoted to the explication of a single work, with the primary focus on Chekhov's short stories: only one...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-2833
Print ISSN
1948-2825
Pages
pp. 206-207
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-06
Open Access
No
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