Living with Chekhov at the Dacha
This chapter investigates the significance of place to the dacha experience. Anton Chekhov truly understood and best captured the nature of dacha life in all of its intensely visceral, passionate, and often conflicted glory. Dachas were a recurring theme in his work, and in particular were used as a setting for his critical commentaries on the pressing social issues of the day: the rise of populism, the consequences of the emancipation of the serfs, the beginnings of industrialization and urbanization, and the class tensions heightened by these changes. Maxim Gorky's play offers a glimpse into a typical day in a dacha community at the turn of the twentieth century, as his middle- and upper-class dachniki wander aimlessly into and out of the woods. Chekhov and Gorky are not just narrating fictional dachniki, but rather are telling the story of every dachnik.
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