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Chekhov: A Bibliographic Research Guide: Home

Research sources and strategies for the life and literature of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov and their impact, 1860-present, including bibliographies, databases, encyclopedias, archives, search strategies and more

In this Guide

The staff of the Slavic Reference Service has striven to make this a comprehensive guide to all things Chekhov.  The Chekhov's Works tab, obviously, deals with print and online bibliographies of all the many editions and translations of Chekhov's short stories, plays and other writings, as well as describing websites where the full text of Chekhov's works can be accessed.

The Chekhov Criticism tab provides a number of options for reviewing and searching the literature on Chekhov's works, whether (depending on the source) penned by contemporary scholars, by Chekhov's own contemporaries, or anywhere in between.  Some of these can be quite specific and detailed, as with T. V. Osharova's bibliography of Soviet literary criticism written on the occasion of the centenary of Chekhov's birth in 1960.

Under Chekhov's Life & Times, researchers can find descriptions of a number of sources useful for exploring Chekhov's biography, including information on his family, friends and associates, their writings, Chekhov's voluminous correspondence with these important influences on his life and works, and even a day-by-day chronology of every event of any significance to Anton Pavlovich.

The proliferation of academic portals, digital libraries, literary societies, journal depositories, and open source databases are a boon to researchers.  The Chekhov on the Web tab offers a snapshot of online resources available to researchers.  For example, The Fundamental Digital Library of Russian Literature and Folklore's comprehensive guide to A. P. Chekhov [], the North American Chekhov Society, and the Russian Commission on Chekhov.  

The Search Strategies tab delves into (among others) the mysteries of Чехов vs. Chekhov vs. Čechov vs. Čehov vs. Tchekhov vs. Tschechow vs. Tchekoff (etc.), and how competing systems of transliteration affect access to and discoverability of print and online materials.

The Archival Sources tab provides a helpful overview of archival sources for A. P. Chekhov and an annotated directory of major archives in Russia.  Researchers can explore print and online sources, which provide content and depository information for onsite research and duplication requests. 

And finally, since A. P. Chekhov and his works had a profound influence on the performing arts, the Chekhov on Stage & Screen tab guides the researcher through various productions of Chekhov's plays, film adaptations, and authoritative sources for researching Chekhov on stage and screen.

A Russian original

Over a century after his untimely death, and by a variety of measures (including the wealth of resources described in this guide), Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860-1904) remains one of the most compelling figures in world literature, and occupies a special place in the pantheon of great Russian writers.  As is the case with Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and others, if anything the Chekhov scholar faces a problem of too much information, too many commentaries and too many versions of his works, both in the original Russian and in other languages.  

As an example of the types of problems this guide is intended to help with, we might consider the problem of sourcing the partial quotation referring to Chekhov as an "incomparable artist" = "несравненный художник". Various versions of the complete quotation, attributed to Leo Tolstoy ("Chekhov is an incomparable artist, an artist of life. And the merit of his creative work is that he is understood and accepted not only by every Russian, but by all humanity"), appear all over the Web and in printed texts in English, Russian and other languages, but a source for the quotation is seldom provided. (Even the work from which the above translation is taken -- page 127 of Ernest Simmons' Introduction to Tolstoy's Writings [Chicago, 1968 -- UIUC call numbers 891.73 T58 DS59 and PG3410.S5 1968] -- does not provide a source.)
One Russian-language online resource makes a vague reference to what turns out to be K. Lomunov's Dramaturgiia L. N. Tolstogo (Moskva, 1956 -- UIUC call number 891.73 T58 DL832d), which does turn out to include a slightly different version of the quotation, and, happily, cites its source: page 226 of the 1911 publication Tolstoi i ego sovremenniki, by the prolific Tolstoy biographer Petr Sergeenko.
However if one wants to verify this citation de visu in the Sergeenko work, one may come to a conclusion when searching for it in Worldcat that it is a rare item.  Actually, it is quite widely held, including the UIUC library (Call no. 891.73 T58BS48t).  However, what is important to know is that in cataloging this work the pre-revolutionary spelling of Sergeenko’s name was used, giving Sergieenko. This is an example of knowledge of bibliographic detail that may make or break a research project.  This guide hopes to assist the Chekhov scholar with at least a few of such idiosyncrasies.

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Slavic Reference Service
Slavic Reference Service
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