Not all that Keen

John Bayley

  • Chekhov: A Spirit Set Free by V.S. Pritchett
    Hodder, 235 pp, £12.95, January 1989, ISBN 0 340 37409 8

It is likely that The Cherry Orchard was suggested by Chekhov’s story ‘A Visit to Friends’, which he did not include in the collected edition, and which concerns a family in dire financial straits (Chekhov knew them) who pin their hopes on a shrewd and successful young lawyer friend. He will marry their daughter and somehow get them out of the mess. Naturally cynical and self-absorbed, the young man is nonetheless sentimentally attracted to the daughter. But it would be a mistake. Feeling a bit ashamed of himself, but not much, the young man gets up and sneaks off into the night.

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