Jan. 29, 2000
The Raven, from
Poem: from "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe.
It’s the birthday of playwright and master of the modern short story Anton (Pavlovitch) Chekhov, born in Taganrog , a Crimean seaport on the southern rim of imperial Russia (1860). Chekhov always considered medicine his first vocation. A true humanitarian, he cared for the poor without charge, serving tirelessly, even during epidemics. He liked to say that medicine was his legitimate wife, literature his mistress. He was 36 when The Sea Gull, a four-act play, was first produced at the Alexandrinski Theatre in Petersburg. It was hissed off the stage, and Chekhov swore he would never write another play. But 2 years later The Sea Gull was revived (1899), this time at the Moscow Art Theatre, and this time directed by Konstantin Stanislavsky. With new staging and acting it was a smash success. During the last 6 years of his life, Chekhov concentrated on drama and wrote his final masterpieces: Uncle Vanya (1897), The Three Sisters (1901), and The Cherry Orchard (1904). Six months after The Cherry Orchard’s premiere, he died of the tuberculosis he had been battling for years. He was 44.
On this day in 1845, Edgar Allan Poe’s long poem "The Raven" first appeared in print in the New York Evening Mirror, bringing him instant national fame. Two years after writing his poem Poe’s wife died at 25; Poe himself died 2 years later. Among his greatest advocates was poet Stephane Mallarme, one of the French Symbolists, who owed much to Poe’s long essay "The Philosophy of Composition" (1846), in which he detailed the care he had taken in crafting "The Raven."
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