A: Anton Chekhov Pf: 1887, Moscow Pb: 1888 Tr: 1912 G: Drama in 4 acts; Russian prose S: Ivanov's estate and Lebedev's home, central Russia, 1880s C: 11m, 5f, extrasNikolai Ivanov, a 35-year-old government official, feels ‘paralysed. Half dead or something.’ His debts are mounting, he is exhausted, and he feels guilty about his adoring Jewish wife Anna, who defied her family to change her name and religion to marry Ivanov. She is now dying of tuberculosis, and Ivanov no longer loves her. Refusing to spend the evening with her, he goes to visit his friend Paul Lebedev, where Lebedev's 20-year-old daughter Sasha has been defending Ivanov against local gossips. Alone together, Sasha declares her love for Ivanov, and begs him to elope with her. As they embrace passionately, Anna enters. Ivanov is consumed with guilt and self-recrimination, intensified by Anna's accusations that he married her for her money and is now pursuing Sasha to get out of his debts to Lebedev. Furious, he calls her ‘a Jewish bitch’ and reveals the secret that she is dying. A year later, Anna is dead, and Ivanov is that day getting married to Sasha. However, Ivanov cannot bear to inflict his ‘moaning and groaning’ on the lovely young Sasha and calls off the wedding. His young friend Dr Lvov, who secretly loved Anna, publicly denounces Ivanov. Ivanov takes his gun and shoots himself.
A: Anton Chekhov Pf: 1887, Moscow Pb: 1888 Tr: 1912 G: Drama in 4 acts; Russian prose S: Ivanov's estate and Lebedev's home, central Russia, 1880s C: 11m, 5f, extras
In his first performed full-length play, which he revised at least seven times, Chekhov mocks the rural landowning class, especially their anti-Semitism, and shows what an empty, idle, self-pitying life Ivanov leads, ‘playing at Hamlet’. Chekhov had not yet succeeded in creating his own special theatrical style: Ivanov abounds in stock characters and melodramatic incidents, and the protagonist's many monologues, which increased with each rewriting, slow the action. Nevertheless, Ivanov is a work of humour and insight, foreshadowing his four major plays.