Dear Writer, Dear Actress: The Love Letters of Anton Chekhov and Olga Knipper

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Author, Ol'ga Leonardovna Knipper-Chekhova, Joint Author, Jean Benedetti, Editor
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Author, Ol'ga Leonardovna Knipper-Chekhova, Joint Author, Jean Benedetti, Editor Ecco Press $24 (320p) ISBN 978-0-88001-550-9
Reviewed on: 12/01/1970
Release date: 12/01/1961
Benedetti (Stanislavski) delivers an illuminating and heartfelt volume of the correspondence between Chekhov and his friend, lover and, eventually, wife, Olga Knipper, from 1899 to Chekhov's death in 1904. Love blossoms long-distance between the sickly playwright, forced to stay in the warmer regions of Yalta for his tuberculosis, and the rising star of the Moscow Art Theater. Knipper's dramatic descriptions of life in Moscow were frequently awash with her insecurities about her stage performances of Chekhov's work or her relationship with his mother and overbearing sister. Chekhov supplied her with the calming, encouraging antidote of his sweet and sensitive comments. Their bond sustained the couple through several theater seasons, increasingly serious bouts of illness and a miscarriage. Later, the letter writing became a form of therapy for Knipper as she continued to address Chekhov in a journal following his death. Benedetti's translations have a welcome contemporary flair and provide an enjoyable, romantic read. Although the repetition of pet names and small talk on the weather wears thin, such minutiae help bring the letters--and the principles--alive. Excerpts from Knipper's memoirs and brief footnotes offer further insight. (Oct.)
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