A New Life of Anton Chekhov (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
Ronald Hingley is a distinguished, Oxford-based scholar of Russian history and literature, with a special fondness for Chekhov. In 1950 he published a biographical and critical study of the Russian author, and he is editor and translator of The Oxford Chekhov, of which nine volumes have so far been issued. He thus comes equipped with enormous authority for writing this comprehensive, fully detailed but largely noncritical biography of one of Russia’s most complex major writers. The result is an impressive achievement in literary scholarship: erudite, industrious, sensible, and gracefully written. It fails, however, to illuminate the nature of Chekhov’s literary genius: partly because Hingley confines himself to a sparse number of literary judgments, but largely because Chekhov, in his life as in his art, insists upon remaining elusive.
Hingley has based his biography on the twenty-volume Russian edition of Chekhov’s Complete Works and Letters (1944-1951), but serves his readers notice that an even more ambitious thirty-volume Russian publication is now in progress, to be published in Moscow from 1974 to the early 1980’s. Whether this expanded Works and Letters will contain significant new material, one can only speculate; Hingley managed to read only its first two volumes as he polished his own study, discovering them in the University of North Carolina’s library after having been denied them in the Soviet Union. The...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
Book World. June 27, 1976, p. G 1.
Economist. CCLIX, May 22, 1976, p. 124.
National Observer. XV, July 24, 1976, p. 19.
National Review. XXVIII, August 20, 1976. p. 910.
New York Review of Books. June 10, 1976. p. 40.
Spectator. CCXXXVI, May 15, 1976, p. 21.
Times Literary Supplement. August 6, 1976, p. 988.
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