Chekhov in Ceylon
Celebrating the 120th anniversary of Chekhov’s
Professor Sunanda Mahendra brought Anton Chekhov back alive on the
stage, after more than 100 years, in his Chekhov Sandhyava. The play
combined five of ekhov’s renowned plays including On the Harmful Effects
of Tobacco, Swansong and A Marriage Proposal
Whenever I hear the name Anton Chekhov I remember my A-Level days
when I did English Literature. Our textbook was Cherry Orchard by Anton
Chekhov. Thinking about those days still pulls at my heartstrings.
Keepsakes of Chekhov
A commemoration and seminar, organized by the Russian Literary Circle
and the Russian Centre in Colombo, on the 120th Anniversary of Anton
Chekhov’s visit to Ceylon was held at the Russian Centre Premises.
“This is a very interesting event. Exactly on this day 120 years ago,
Anton Chekhov left Ceylon. He spent three days and two nights in Sri
One night in Colombo and one night in Kandy. That was his trip. He
called it the trip around the world.
Actually it was a trip from Asia to the Sakhalin Island, an island in
the far east used for imprisonment.” Oriental and international
relations specialist Dmitry Kapustin explained.
Chekhov decided to devote a part of his time, to study the situation
in Sakhalin and wrote the famous book Sakhalin Island which was not just
famous in Russia, but also around the world. He visited persons living
in the prison.
Chekhov was a doctor and tried to study living conditions in the
prison. Not just prisoners but all the population in Sakhalin.
He spent three months in Sakhalin and returned by a Russian ship to
Odessa, the port on the black sea in Russia.
Chekhov was of course fond of journey. And his first goal was to
On his way to Sakhalin he wrote several articles concerning Russian
He wrote six or seven articles about that which was published in
Russian newspapers and returned around Asia through Suez canal to
He wanted to visit 11 foreign countries. Unfortunately cholera was at
that time in South Asian cities.
The ship was forbidden to go to some ports and he visited only four
ports: Hong Kong, Singapore , Colombo and Port Said.
Exactly in Colombo he says: “I was in paradise in Colombo.”
He began to write a story here called Gusev, a family name of a
Russian Soldier. A sad but very deep story about the fate of this poor
A story about the life of this soldier. Being one of the greatest
works of Chekhov, the story was very famous.
Even during publication he wrote at the end – Colombo, November 24,
He finished this story during his trip home and published in
Christmas newspaper at the end of December.
It was his first story after his trip.
From Odessa he returned from train to Moscow.
“Chekhov is a unique phenomenon not just for Russsia but for the
You can see how famous and how loved Chekhov is in Sri Lanka. A
Country which is so far from Russia.
We know how deep the influence of Chekhov’s work on Sri Lanka
literature,” said the Russian Embassy First Secretary and Russian Centre
Director Ayrat Akhmeto.