• harryp

Beehive Book Club #6

Updated: Jun 14

Wonderful people! Hope you are doing ok! Sending good vibes your way <3 This sunshine and heat are incredible! How are all your tans doing at the moment? Big question to start… Favourite ice cream on a hot summer’s day? So far with my book recommendations I realised I have only done novels. Therefore, I wanted to mix it up at bit today. This week, we are going to do a play. I LOVE Russian literature; I can’t really put my finger on exactly what it is about Russian writers. I think these authors really capture life in their writing. So, we’re going to look at a Russian play. Yay. So, this week’s book is ‘Uncle Vanya’ by Anton Chekhov.

This was first published in 1898 and first performed in 1899 at the Moscow Art Theatre. Chekhov is described as a master of the modern short story and a leading playwright of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By observing the significance and depths of seemingly small everyday events, he highlights the incredible depths of human nature. I love those little gems of everyday life. Working in a café is perfect for people watching and enjoying those hidden moments. This play is said to be inspired by the author’s visit to a prison island and what he witnessed there.

‘Uncle Vanya’ is based upon one of Chekhov’s earlier pieces, ‘The Wood Demon’. No family is perfect, each with their own problems and issues. I wonder if lockdown is shining a light on any of these at the moment… However, maybe the problems experienced by the family in ‘Uncle Vanya’ will help put these into perspective. This play is set in the rural, yet extremely comfortable and extravagant home of the Professor and his much younger second wife, Yelena. Yelena’s beauty causes many heads to turn and problems arise because of it. Vanya, aka the Uncle Vanya, is the brother of the professor’s late first wife, but also works as estate manager. Vanya is extremely cynical. With the grumblings and complaints caused by lockdown, I wonder if any of us can sympathise with Vanya’s witty yet dark jokes. This play focuses on this rather dysfunctional family and the rifts and dramas that they experience. A little warning, it is not a particularly happy read if that is what you are after…

To finish, here is one of my favourite quotes from this play:

“There is no greater sorrow than to know another’s secret when you cannot help them.”

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