To a distant island
/ James McConkey ; foreword by Jay Parini. - Philadelphia :
Paul Dry books, 2000. - XVIII-203 p. : map ; 23 cm.
NOTE DE L'ÉDITEUR : In 1890 Anton Chekhov — thirty years old and already a famous writer — left his
home and family in Moscow to travel 6,500 miles across Russia,
over frozen land and sea, by train, ferry, and troika, to visit
the island of Sakhalin, a penal colony off the coast of Siberia.
What was Chekhov seeking by undertaking
such a harrowing journey to that God-forsaken island ? Ostensibly,
he went in his role of physician, to observe the medical conditions
and to collect statistical information (indeed, Chekhov wrote
that during his stay he filled out more than 10,000 census cards
based on interviews with prisoners and exiles). But his motivation,
as James McConkey reflects, was more likely escape : escape
from the sense of confinement that fame, fortune, and family
had brought — a search, in other words, for freedom in a
place where no one was free.
In To a Distant Island,
McConkey recreates Chekhov's remarkable journey in all of its
complexity, while interweaving a journey of his own. As McConkey
guides us through the Russian wilderness and into the soul of
this great writer, he uncovers the peculiar and hidden forces
that shaped two lives.
ISLANDS, May-June 2001 : […]
In To a distant island,
teacher and critic James McConkey retells the story of Chekhov's
pilgrimage. Like his subject, McConkey has suffered from serious
depression, and he seems to have a special empathy with Chekhov
as he attempts to reconstruct the Russian author's motivations.
McConkey frames the book as a
novel told in a detached, vaguely 19th century style. […] It's
an effective filter, for Sakhalin was a hellhole that reduced
humanity to bestiality in short order.
- « To a distant island »,
New York : Dutton, 1984
- Anton Chekhov, « The
island : a journey to Sakhalin », New York :
Washington Square Press, 1967 ; Westport (Conn.) :
Greenwood press, 1977
- Anton Tchekhov, « L'île de Sakhaline »,
Paris : Gallimard (Folio, 3547), 2001
|mise-à-jour : 8 décembre 2016