What makes Janet Malcolm stand out immediately from a long line of Chekhov’s biographers is her critical approach to working within the genre. It is a rare and a brave biographer who proclaims ‘the inescapable triviality of biography’ (p. 36). She repeatedly challenges the sentimentality which has become a tradition with Chekhov’s biographers and with which anyone who has a read Henry Troyat’s Chekhov or Philip Callow’s Chekhov: The Hidden Ground will be familiar. Malcolm’s own tone is one of respectful detachment, and she consistently opts for discussing Chekhov’s relationship to his work rather than speculating on the details of his private life. ‘Chekhov’s... literary practice...was a kind of exercise in withholding’ (pp.40-1), she ponders, and this becomes her own ‘practice.’
How to Cite
Kanakova, A., (2010) “Janet Malcolm, Chekhov: a Critical Journey”, Opticon1826 8.