In 1890, the thirty-year-old Chekhov, already
knowing that he was ill with tuberculosis, undertook
an arduous eleven-week journey from Moscow
across Siberia to the penal colony on the island of
Sakhalin. Now collected here in one volume are the
fully annotated translations of his impressions of his
trip through Siberia, and the account of his threemonth
sojourn on Sakhalin Island, together with the
author’s notes, extracts from Chekhov’s letters to
relatives and associates, and photographs.
Highly valuable both as a detailed depiction of the
Tsarist system of penal servitude and as an insight
into Chekhov’s motivations and objectives for visiting
the colony and writing the exposé, Sakhalin Island
a haunting work of tremendous importance, which
had a huge impact both on Chekhov’s subsequent
work and on Russian society.
should be compulsory reading for all those who are
anywhere and in any way involved with the
so-called penal system.'
shows off the breadth of Chekhov’s reading as well as
the depth of his fieldwork… This is a much needed new annotated
'As a work of literature, Sakhalin Island
is a masterpiece of
restrained, dignified, unsentimental prose... a work of
complete seriousness, full of clear, humane, practical
suggestions for reform.'
'Mr Reeve’s work reminds one that Chekhov was as great a master of the
documentary genre – and also of the best
academic prose – as of drama and narrative fiction… Sakhalin Island will
never eclipse The Cherry Orchard
. But it is every bit as impressive a
masterpiece, and this new version will surely make its merits more
Times Literary Supplement
is the work of a sensible and sympathetic recorder of
the facts, and Mr Reeve has done us a favour in his handsome and useful edition.'
Stephen Tumm, Former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
Read an excerpt from Sakhalin Island
By the same author: