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To a Distant Island. by James McConkey - Paperback - First Ed; First Printing indicated.  - 2000. - from Black Cat Hill Books and

Note: Cover may not represent actual copy or condition available

To a Distant Island.

by James McConkey

Condition: See description

Philadelphia, PA Paul Dry Books, Inc. , 2000. Paperback First Ed; First Printing indicated. First Ed; First Printing indicated. Fine in Wraps: binding square and secure; text clean. Virtually 'As New'. NOT a Remainder. NOT a Book-Club Edition. NOT an Ex-Library copy. 8vo. 203pp. Trade Paperback. In 1890, Anton Chekhov traveled across Russia to the island of Sakhalin to visit a prison colony there and write a book about what he found. The trip was so arduous as to be almost suicidal, and no-one has ever clearly understood why Chekhov desired such a journey. James McConkey's To a Distant Island is partially a chronicle of Chekhov's journey, but there is much more to the book than that. McConkey uses Chekhov's letters, the book he wrote when he returned, and various biographies to weave a speculative narrative. There are many gaps in the documentary evidence, and McConkey fills these gaps in with fictional scenes and suppositions, adding color and depth where previously there have only been shadows. He links moments in the journey to Chekhov's own stories and plays with tremendous insight -- indeed, McConkey's odd book offers some of the best literary criticism of Chekhov written in English. Additionally, the book is a sort of memoir. McConkey first discovered Chekhov's Sakhalin letters while traveling in Florence and fleeing depression and discontent with his life, a confluence of psychology and situation which allowed him to be particularly empathetic to Chekhov's journey. At first, his discussion of himself within the book seemed anachronistic and intrusive, but I came to enjoy and even relish the memoiristic elements of To a Distant Island as much as I did the material about Chekhov. I don't know of another book like To a Distant Island. It is lyrical, surprising, informative, and deeply affecting. Chekhov comes alive far more in this slim volume than in all the hundreds of pages of Donald Rayfield's exhaustive recent biography. This book could serve as a fine introduction to Chekhov's life and works, it could be tremendously fascinating to people who are already familiar with Chekhov, and I expect it would even prove to be a rewarding read for lovers of literature in general who have no particular interest in Chekhov. At the very least, if you appreciate fine writing, you will appreciate this book.


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