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No one’s hero

What might Chekhov have made of modern Russia's slide into authoritarianism?

The usual charge laid against English productions of Chekhov is that they are sentimental. As with so many aspects of our understanding of Russia, the real problem is slightly different. Give or take a samovar or a teapot, Russia’s greatest dramatist (who died in 1904) has earned a natural place on the English stage. In his Anglicised form, he’s upper class. The struggling country estate, the charm of a life surrounded by ancient retainers and, above all, the sense that it wouldn’t be good form to express one’s secret woes belong to a refined ethos from which a more general…

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