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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

Chapter 7 - Reception


By the end of his life, Chekhov was recognized as one of Russia's greatest writers of both fiction and drama; in the century following his death, he became one of the most influential figures in world literature. Following the shape of his own career, his international reputation was established first as a writer of fiction, and subsequently as a dramatist; in the past few decades the latter may have eclipsed the former. Chekhov made indelible marks on both literary and dramatic history: the modern short story and the contemporary theatre would not be the same without him.

Because of the nature of Chekhov's work and the history of the twentieth century, the story of Chekhov's reception must be a kind of Cartesian graph, with axes dividing fiction from drama, and East from West; time would add a third dimension. Chekhov's impact as a fiction writer in Britain in the 1930s was very different from his stature as a playwright in Soviet Russia in the same period, and each had changed a generation later. The discussion that follows will try to plot a few points in each quadrant, but it will be necessarily brief and incomplete. Chekhov's influence continues to be felt in new ways in the global literary worlds of the new millennium.

Chekhov in his lifetime

Chekhov was a celebrated writer from the time of his youth. The established fiction writers Dmitri Grigorovich and Nikolai Leskov recognized his gifts early.

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