Swallow House Books is the personal imprint of Harvey Pitcher.
Responding to Chekhov: The Journey of a Lifetime
is the fifth Swallow House title.


How do you respond to Chekhov? How do you read him? What is he all about? These deceptively simple questions continue to fascinate the author, for whom Chekhov has been a lifelong interest. He describes the present book as a report on his findings, a kind of debriefing after a long and varied journey. Responding to Chekhov interprets the man as well as his stories and plays, but the major part of the book is devoted to discussions of the later stories. In adopting a more personal approach, in highlighting how we respond to Chekhov and how we listen to his voice, Harvey Pitcher aims to reach out to all those, beginners and specialists alike, who share his fascination with this great author, in the hope that his book may interest them in their own journeys of discovery and exploration.

Harvey Pitcher started the Russian Department at the University of St Andrews and has been a full-time writer since 1971. He is the author of a seminal study of Chekhov’s plays (The Chekhov Play: A New Interpretation), a biography of Chekhov’s wife (Chekhov’s Leading Lady) and a novel (Lily) in which Chekhov is a central character.  With Patrick Miles he pioneered the translation of Chekhov’s early stories.  He has also written a number of books on the British community in Russia before the Revolution, notably When Miss Emmie was in Russia (to be reissued by Eland in 2011), The Smiths of Moscow and Witnesses of the Russian Revolution (Pimlico).
Harvey Pitcher lives in Cromer on the North Norfolk coast.



Some responses to “Responding”


I finished reading your book last week and I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it, not only because it is so well and sensitively written, but also because it is such a fitting tribute to Chekhov.  Your many years of study have resulted in a book that will be difficult to surpass for its subtle, intelligent and sympathetic reading.  (Malcolm Jones, Emeritus Professor of Slavonic Studies, University of Nottingham)

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your “Responding to Chekhov”… and having read it, I feel the need to return to the original stories with your study as a kind of ‘vade mecum’.  (Nick Worrall, author of “The Chekhov File”)

Pitcher writes well about ways in which the early comic stories anticipate the later work…and about many aspects of Chekhov’s life and work: his explorations of peasant life, his trip to the convict island of Sakhalin, his marriage, his fear of dying.  I was particularly intrigued by his insights into Chekhov the doctor.  (Robert Chandler, The Spectator, 30 October 2010)



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