Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Book 33: The Cherry Orchard/Finished.

Like I said before, I have read a bunch of Chekov's short stories, so I was really excited to read this play, since it was one of his last pieces he wrote before his death. I also love Chekov's writing style, so I was looking forward to seeing how that would translate into solely dialogue.

Now, I liked the play, but it didn't leave me feeling profoundly changed like I feel I should have been. I think it had the essence of greatness, but that was lost on me (Again, I will say that I think from now on I need to listen to the non-Shakespearean plays so I can fully appreciate them. I lose something by just staring at the text). However, this is definitely something I want to read again, or see live. I think I would love it more.

The play begins with a Russian family returning home to their estate in the countryside after having been in Paris for five years. While they were gone, the estate and attached cherry orchard were cared for by the servants they left behind and the matriarch's (Madame Ranevskaya) eldest daughter.

It is made known from the beginning that some portion, or all, of the estate must be sold to pay off debts. There are plans made for ways for the estate to be saved, but Madame Ranevskaya seems reluctant to follow through, especially when a good neighbor suggest destroying the cherry orchard to build homes.

It almost seems as if there is a huge battle between old and new, the young and the old. In particular, I was drawn to the character of Firs, an old, senile servant who rambles about things and who no one seems to take seriously. The last scene with him was truly touching.

In all, I think this was a powerful story that fell flat in my reading of it on the page. It needs character and life and the vision that Chekov probably dreamed of. If I ever get a chance to, this is something I definitely need to see performed.


  1. This sounds like an interesting Play. I've read several of Chekhov's short stories, but didn't know he has written plays as well.

    I think you might be right that it's probably a good idea to listen instead of read plays. I've tried to read plays several times, but often feel I'm staring at a page without really reading it.

  2. Another play, you're brave. I have a book of Chekov's short stories at home that I have never looked at, but I definitely will soon. So many books, so little time!

    I noticed that you are reading The Pciture of Dorian Gray - I have read this quite a few times and will look forward to reading what you think of it.

  3. I haven't read this since college, which would be about twenty years ago for me by now (!); I'd like to pick it up again, or at least something by Chekhov. Knowing my passion for Russian authors...;)