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The Cherry Orchard,
By Anton Chekhov, 1904

Notes for "The Cherry Orchard"

[By James Rusk]


ERMOLAI: now written in English as "Yermolay"

PETER: "Petya" in the original

EPIKHODOV: now written in English as "Yepikhodov"

FIERS: pronounced "fierce"

footman: valet


little man: lit., little peasant

kvass: a homemade beer

mother/little mother: the translator's choices for "Mamochka," an intimate nickname for mother

garden: orchard

villa: "dacha," a summer vacation home

Mentone: located on the French Mediterranean

wretch: scoundrel

from one holy place to another: religious pilgrims were common in 19th century Russia

long jacket of thin cloth: "poddëuka," typical peasant clothing

as if he is playing billiards: Gaev's billiard terms don't match any particular kind of billiard playing, and Chekhov admitted he knew nothing about the game

patchouli: a perfume

my dear little cupboard: most translators use "bookcase"

Nurse has died: "nyanya," a nanny

dessiatin: 2.7 acres

Encyclopaedic Dictionary: probably the 86-volume Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary

jubilee: anniversary

in a worn student uniform: all students at this time wore uniforms

advocate: lawyer

I'm a man of the eighties: a period of extreme reaction under Czar Alexandr III

Anya dear!: Anichka!


shrine: chapel

passport: an internal passport for movement within Russia

salto mortale: a complete somersault

What is this noisy earth to me...: words to a popular ballad

Buckle: historian Henry Thomas Buckle (1821-1861) was considered a materialist and free-thinker

about the seventies and about decadents: probably refers to the group of French poets who called themselves decadents

do stop: do stay

all my substance: all my fortune

Emancipation: the serfs were freed in 1861

It was very good for them in the old days: this is said ironically

créches: public nurseries; day care centers

My brother, my suffering brother: from a poem by Nadson

Come out on the Volga: from a poem by Nekrasov

Oh, feel me, get thee to a nunnery: in Hamlet, Hamlet says this to Ophelia (III, 1, 121)

Oh, feel me, nymph, remember me in thine orisons: see Hamlet, III, 1, 89-90

Oh, it's awful...their heavy visions: this passage was substitued by Chekhov for one the censor objected to. The original passage was restored after the 1917 revolution: "To own human beings has affected every one of you--those who lived before and those who live now. Your mother, your uncle, and you don't notice that you are living off the labours of others--in fact, the very people you won't even let in the front door."


drawing-room: ballroom

Promenade a une paire: promenade with your partner

Grand rond, balancez: the great ring dance, get set

Les cavaliers à genou et remerciez vos dames!: Gentlemen, on your knees and thank your ladies

Nietzsche: German philosopher, 1844-1900

Caucasian dance: lezginka, a courtship dance

Ein, zwei, drei: one, two, three (German)

Guter Mensch aber schlechter Musikant: A good man, but a bad musician (German)

I don't want to be a Beau Brummel: I don't want to be fashionable (Beau Brummel was George Brummel, 1778-1840)

"The Magdalen" by Tolstoy: the poem is "The Sinful Woman" by Aleksey Tolstoy (1817-1875), not Leo Tolstoy the novelist

demi-saison: between-season


freeholders: small farmers

chemist: druggist

fagged out: worn out

allez: let's go! (French)

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