Three Years

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Three Years (Russian : Три года, romanized: Tri goda) is an 1895 novella by Anton Chekhov originally published in the January and February 1895 issues of Russkaya Mysl . [1] At 130 pages it is Chekhov's second-longest narrative. [2] [3] The story takes a negative position on the progress of society, featuring individuals of the merchant and factory owner class and their workers, without offering political solutions. [4]

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Romanization of Russian Romanization of the Russian alphabet

Romanization of Russian is the process of transliterating the Russian language from the Cyrillic script into the Latin script.

Anton Chekhov Russian dramatist, author and physician

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian playwright and short-story writer, who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history. His career as a playwright produced four classics, and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics. Along with Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg, Chekhov is often referred to as one of the three seminal figures in the birth of early modernism in the theatre. Chekhov practiced as a medical doctor throughout most of his literary career: "Medicine is my lawful wife", he once said, "and literature is my mistress."



In a September 1894 letter Chekhov informed Maria Chekhova that he was writing "a novel from the Moscow life for Russkaya Mysl. In his December letter to the singer Elena Shavrova [note 1] he expressed his dissatisfaction with the way the work was going. "The original idea was one thing, but something different evolves out of it, something more languid... I am sick of writing of all these habitual things, I'd like to write of demons, of frightening, volcanic women, of wizards, but alas! – what they demand of me is right-minded novellas about Ivan Gavrilovichs and their wives." [1]

Maria Chekhova teacher, artist, founder of the Chekhov Memorial House museum in Yalta

Maria Pavlovna Chekhova was a Russian teacher, artist, founder of the Chekhov Memorial House museum in Yalta, and a recipient of the Order of the Red Banner of Labour. Anton Chekhov was her brother.


The novella came out with huge gaps caused by censorship. "The January issue of Russkaya Mysl has been arrested, then acquitted. From my story the censors threw out everything that had anything to do with religion. Russkaya Mysl is the journal that has to send its articled for the preliminary censorship procedure. Such things kill off all the urge to write, leaves with the feeling of a bone stuck in your throat," Chekhov complained in a January 1895 letter to his friend Alexey Suvorin. [1]

Critical response

Generally the response to the novella was warm, even if some reviewers found the plotline 'hazy' and its characters 'sketchy'. Alexander Skabichevsky reviewed the novella positively and expressed his delight with the Alexey Laptev character whom he described as 'the Hamlet of Zamoskvorechye'. [5]

Alexander Skabichevsky Russian literary historian and critic

Alexander Mikhailovich Skabichevsky was a Russian literary historian, critic and memoirist, part of the Narodnik movement, best known for his series of biographies of the 19th century Russian writers.

Along with three other stories and novellas, "The Ward No. 6", "The Story of an Unknown Man" and "A Woman's Kingdom", Three Years served as a turning point in Chekhov's career. The critics started to recognize him as a new major force in Russian literature and 'a worthy heir to the old masters', according to Sergey Andreevsky. [6]


  1. Elena Mikhaylovna Shavrova sent more than twenty of her stories to Chekhov who liked them, reviewed for her and edited. She failed to develop into a serious writer as he hoped she would, but their ten years' correspondence (which started in 1889, when she was 15) resulted in more than 200 letters.

Related Research Articles


  1. 1 2 3 Muratova, K. D. Commentaries to Три года. The Works by A.P. Chekhov in 12 volumes. Khudozhestvennaya Literatura. Moscow, 1960. Vol. 7, pp. 542-547
  2. Michael C. Finke Seeing Chekhov: Life and Art 2005 0801443156 p.128 "Three Years - The theme of degeneration plays out in a merchant milieu very close to the Chekhov family's own in the 1895 "Three Years" ("Tri goda"), Chekhov's second-longest narrative."
  3. Walter Horace Bruford Chekhov and His Russia: A Sociological Study 2003-0415178096 p180 "Chekhov's Three years (1895) is a small-scale Buddenbrooks, written six years before Thomas Mann's masterpiece, and eleven years before the first part of the Forsyte Saga. In his epigrammatic way, the author gives us in 130 pages, and the story of just three years, the same feeling for the inevitable differentiation of successive generations which Mann and Galsworthy elaborate at much greater length."
  4. Rose Whyman Anton Chekhov 2010 1136913637 "Modernization was not a panacea: he rejected the myth of progress, the idea that any one economic system, form of government, artistic approach, religious or philosophical system, could lead towards a utopian future, discussing the issue by means of the polarized attitudes of characters in Three Years. ... Three Years and In the Ravine (1900) feature factory owners and workers. "
  5. The News and Stockbrokers Gazette, 1895, No.107, 2 May
  6. Novoye Vremya , 1895, No. 6784