Abdulaziz Y.A.
Abdulaziz Y.A. PERCEPTIONS OF A.P. CHEKHOV FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF IRAQI CRITICS // Universum: филология и искусствоведение : электрон. научн. журн. 2023. 4(106). URL: (дата обращения: 14.06.2024).
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The works of Iraqi critics about A.P. Chekhov. The features of the personality and creativity of the writer, which are closest to the Iraqi public consciousness, are characterized.


Рассматриваются работы иракских критиков об А.П. Чехове. Характеризуются черты личности и творчества писателя, наиболее близкие иракскому общественному сознанию.


Keywords: Chekhov, Iraqi criticism, humanism, social issues.

Ключевые слова: Чехов, иракская критика, гуманизм, социальная проблематика.


Iraqi criticism turned to the work of A.P. Chekhov in the middle of the twentieth century. By this time, the book of Najati Sidki ‘Chekhov’ published in Egypt had already gained wide popularity, many Chekhov’s stories, novels and plays were translated into Arabic. Often the translators also became critics of Chekhov’s work, prefaced the translations with lengthy introductory articles. The Iraqi magazine ‘Eltaqafa Eljadida’ undertook the publication of a series of books about great writers. The first was the book by S. Hasbak ‘Anton Chekhov’, published in Baghdad in 1954 on the fiftieth anniversary of the death you are a Russian writer.

By ‘noise’ S. Hasbak understands simple entertainment, entertaining. Chekhov’s stories are real pictures of life, his heroes are not just names written on paper, each of them is a living person. Attracts S. Hasbak and A.P.’s optimism. Chekhov. At the same time, the critic does not distinguish between the point of view of the author and his characters. Sh. Hasbak quotes Petya Trofimov from the play ‘The Cherry Orchard’: ‘To get around that petty and ghostly thing that prevents us from being free and happy is the goal and meaning of our life. Forward! We walk irresistibly towards the bright star that burns there in the distance. Forward! Keep up, friends’ [7, p. 227] and says: ‘Can the author of words about lofty ideals be called a pessimist? We are sure that the spokesmen for such lofty values cannot be pessimists. Chekhov was deeply convinced of the victory of man in this struggle with life’s circumstances. We can safely say that Chekhov was a great optimist’ [6, p. 19]. The belief in Chekhov’s enduring optimism is a feature of all Arab criticism. However, in the artistic world of Chekhov, everything is much more complicated. As V.B. Kataev, author’s position A.P. Chekhov ‘does not come down to asserting one’s own, pre-formed simulated knowledge about life. But it necessarily involves an assessment of other people’s knowledge, opinions, ‘truths’, a comparison of various ‘truths’, a study of signs, conditions of truth’ [3, p. 45]. Important thoughts related to the perception of Russian literature and A.P. Chekhov in Iraq was formulated in a review of the book by Sh. Hasbak, Mohammed Sharara. ‘The spirit of Russian literature differs from other literatures of the world,’ writes M. Sharara. The main feature of this spirit is freedom from evil and violence, humanism. In Russian literature there are no ideas of Nietzsche, who has a beast between the lines. Nietzsche glorifies the power of the beast and the struggle against the weak. Russian literature also lacks the ideas of Kipling, whom the British call the poet of empire, but we call the poet of colonialism. In the ethics of other countries one rarely finds writers like Tolstoy and Pushkin whose heart beats with love for humanity. A vivid example is the same Nietzsche, who said that Dostoevsky is the only one who told him something about the human soul. If only one of the great Russian writers so influenced Nietzsche, what treasures are hidden in this literature and in these writers. [8, p. 144]. M. Sharara’s reasoning goes far beyond art. When talking about literature, he talks about politics, which is very characteristic of Iraqi critics. Complaining that the number of translations of works of Russian literature is negligible compared to French or English, he states: ‘There is no doubt that politics played an important role in this conspiracy of silence and tried to hide the great Russian literature from the Arab reader. The conspiracy of silence became stronger after the October Revolution, because Russian literature participated in the destabilization of the thrones of tyrants and the destruction of reactionary strongholds throughout the world. Therefore, the reactionary forces were afraid of the influence of Russian literature on the spirit of people. These forces have erected a dam between Russian literature and Arabic readers. The dam only weakened after World War II. The steadfastness of the Soviet Union in the face of medieval barbarians-Hitler’s gangs again turned all eyes on Russian literature. People wanted to know what kind of literature such a people had, because literature is a mirror that reflects the spirit of the nation. Then Maxim Gorky’s book ‘Mother’ appeared, and a new world opened up for our people. Other translations only increased the thirst for acquaintance with Russian literature’ [8, p. 145]. In S. Hasbak’s book, critics are attracted by the idea that Chekhov is close in character to the poor, to the revolution. Chekhov knew life and people well, which is why he so accurately reflected their experiences. S. Hasbak presented Chekhov as a loving optimist who deeply believed in people. This belief is the basis of the work of Russian writers and is preserved even during historical upheavals or defeats. M. Sharara concludes that, despite the shortcomings of the translation, the book of S. Hasbak remains one of the main sources that played a role in the perception of Chekhov’s work by the Arabs. The appearance of an increasing number of translations and critical articles about Chekhov’s work in Iraq aroused keen interest in the personality of the writer. Not only to the facts of his biography, but also to his inner life. Unfortunately, Chekhov’s letters themselves have not been fully translated in Iraq, but in 1978 the Elaklyam magazine published a translation by Abdulsattar Dzhuad of a small article by the Irish politician and writer Montgomery Hyde ‘Chekhov’s Letters’, the author of which cites fragments of letters and says, that Chekhov wrote very simply and directly, without deception or falsehood [5, p. 100]. In the same row is the article ‘Anton Chekhov from Tolstoy’s Point of View’ published in the Iraqi journal Finun in 1980, translated by Ali Elkhilli. Unfortunately, the author of the article is not listed in the journal. The article details Tolstoy’s statements about Chekhov, talks about the creative dialogue of Russian writers, about Tolstoy’s rejection of Chekhov’s dramaturgy [1]. It must be said that Tolstoy is highly valued in Iraq not only as a writer, but also as a philosopher and teacher of life. Jalil Kama Leldin described Tolstoy and Chekhov as follows: ‘Tolstoy is considered one of the seven golden pillars on which Russian literature of the 19th century rests. These seven greats are Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol Turgenev, Dostoevsky and Chekhov’ [2, p. 227]. The appeal to Tolstoy also characterizes the attitude towards Chekhov. In the 80s. Iraqi critics and readers are especially interested in Chekhov’s personal life and his place in the Russian literary process. Since there was little literature on these topics in Iraq, the authors of journal publications translate the works of foreign scientists (for example, Henri Troyat’s book ‘Anton Chekhov’ or L. Plotkin’s article ‘The Question of Chekhov and Turgenev’), and refer to memoir sources. So, in 1986 L. Avilova’s memoirs about Chekhov were published in Iraq. In the preface to these memoirs, the translator Naim Badaui insists on their veracity, reinforcing his confidence by referring to I. Bunin’s words about Avilova’s sincerity. Despite the controversy of this point of view, the publication of the memoirs speaks of the attention paid to Chekhov’s inner life, his relations with novice writers, which is especially important in Iraq, because it was at this time that Chekhov’s influence on Iraqi writers became obvious [4].

Western critics argue that Chekhov’s genius is less than the genius of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, and Chekhov’s language is not as pure as that of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. It just does not make sense, an Iraqi critic notes. After all, the main feature of Chekhov’s style is the ability to reveal a large topic on one page. And the impact on the reader is no less than that of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. The whole world still reads his works and learns from them life [9, p. 106, 112]. In the 1990s Iraqi Czechoslovakia slowed down due to political events, economic blockade and war. After the collapse of the USSR, Russia stopped supporting Russian culture abroad, while at present, with the development of Russian-Iraqi ties, this gap is gradually replenished.



  1. Anton Chekhov from the point of view of Tolstoy // Finun (magazine). Baghdad. No. 67. February. 1980. PP.: 54-55.
  2. Kamaleldin J. Literary criticism. Baghdad: Elmuasasa Elarabia Lildirasat Ua Elnashir, 1985.
  3. Kataev V.B. Chekhov’s prose: problems of interpretation. Moscow: Publishing House of Moscow State University, 1979.
  4. Lidia Avilova. Chekhov in my life // Elaklyam (magazine). Baghdad. No. 4. April. 1986. PP.: 40-54.
  5. Hyde M. Chekhov’s Letters // Elaklyam (magazine). Baghdad. No. 5. February. 1978. PP.: 99-101.
  6. Hasback Sh. Anton Chekhov. Baghdad: Eltakafa Eljadida, 1954.
  7. Chekhov A.P. Complete works and letters: in 30 volumes. Works: in 18 volumes. Vol. 13. Moscow: Nauka, 1978.
  8. Sharara M. ‘Anton Chekhov’ by Shakir Hasbak Eltakafa Eljadida (magazine). Baghdad. No. 1. April. 1954. PP.: 144-146.
Информация об авторах

Doctor of Philology, Associate Professor Diyala University, Iraq, Diyala

д-р филол. наук, Диялский университет, Ирак, г. Дияла

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