Author(s): Janet Malcolm
In Reading Chekhov Janet Malcolm takes on three roles: literary critic, biographer and journalist. Her close readings of Chekhov's stories and plays are interwoven with episodes from his life and framed by an account of a recent journey she made to St Petersburg. Malcolm demonstrates how the shadow of death that hovered over most of Chekhov's literary career - he became consumptive in his twenties and died in his forties - is almost everywhere reflected in the work. She writes of his childhood, his relationship with his family, his marriage, his travels, his early success, his exile to Yalta - always with an eye to connecting them to his themes and characters.
"One of the most gratifying things about "Reading Chekhov" is its quiet, vigorous defense of the prerogatives of criticism against the imperial banality of biography." --"The New York Times Book Review. A thoughtful and sensitive study . . . A great part of the charm and the skill of Janet Malcolm's book lies in the very Chekhovian way she mingles personal with critical comment, taking us not only through Chekhov's stories but through the removals and journeys of his life and her own travels in quest of his Russian haunts." --The New York Review of Books "With the gentle inevitability of a balloon lofting skyward, the discourse effortlessly ascends from chatter to contemplation to genuinely brilliant critique. . . . With its balance of distilled perception and companionable spirit, "Reading Chekhov" embodies the same qualities it celebrates." -"San Francisco Chronicle"
Janet Malcolm's books include In the Freud Archives, The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, The Journalist and the Murderer and Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession. Born in Prague, she grew up in New York, where she now lives.