While Troyat's leisurely biography ultimately succumbs to the gloominess of its protagonist, Chekhov's evolution as a writer unfolds here naturally. But his life is a litany of eternal dissatisfaction, failed romances, periodic withdrawals from the world. Visiting Rome, the Eternal City, made the Russian novelist realize how much he missed borscht. When Stanislavski sent him a telegram praising The Cherry Orchard, Chekhov was depressed by the director's ""overestimating it.'' Afraid of falling in love throughout his life, he married a young actress late but was unable to live with her because of her career and his bad health. Drawing heavily on letters and memoirs, Troyat (Tolstoy makes us realize anew Chekhov's ``disengagement'' as a writer, his refusal to bend to literary fashions as he plumbed life's absurdities and passing pleasures with scientific detachment. Illustrations. (October 29)
Reviewed on: 10/28/1986 Release date: 11/01/1986 Genre: Nonfiction
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