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Talk: Dr Rosamund Bartlett: How Chekhov Took on Tolstoy

Tickets for this talk at £7 (£5 for GB Russia members) are only available by email to:

At first glance, the relationship between Anton Chekhov and Lev Tolstoy seems reminiscent of that between David and Goliath. Chekhov's brief life fits entirely within that of Tolstoy's eighty two years, and the thirty slim volumes of his collected works are also dwarfed by the ninety volumes of Tolstoy's, which even physically are twice the size. Yet the two authors, born thirty two years apart, formed an important friendship in the latter part of Tolstoy's life, and once Chekhov had got over his awe of the 'great writer of the Russian land' (in Turgenev's famous phrase), he was not afraid to engage with his aesthetic and moral ideas on the page. This talk will situate this celebrated and important relationship in the political and literary climate of late imperial Russia and show how Chekhov's short stories and plays subtly challenged the towering edifice of Tolstoy's literary oeuvre, showing the way forward for artistic growth in the twentieth century.

Drinks from 6:30pm

Talk at 7pm


Rosamund Bartlett is a writer, scholar, translator and lecturer who is most recently the author of Tolstoy: A Russian Life and translator of Anna KareninaShe has also written a biography of Chekhov, and published translations of his short stories and letters.

She has lectured on Russian literature, music and cultural history at universities and public institutions around the world, and has a particular interest in the comparative history of European Modernism, opera, and the intersection between politics, history and the arts.

She is a Trustee of the Anton Chekhov Foundation, for which is she currently overseeing the Early Chekhov Translation Project.