SO / CHRONICLESnPlatonov is presented as a shamefulncad pursued by the four main femalencharacters within the play. We learnnfrom Troyat that, at various periods innChekhov’s life, “All the women morenor less in love with him knew onenanother and despised one anothernunder the most friendly of exteriors”;nalso that Chekhov “was not averse tonthe idea of several young women lustingnafter him. He called them hisn’squadron’ and himself their ‘admiral.'”nIn another instance, Troyatnwrites, “The preliminaries were whatninterested him most in love; he sawnthem as a self-sufhcient game.” Andneven later he tells us, “If Chekhovnborrowed a good deal from the lives ofnothers for his work, ‘The Lady with thenDog’ shows he could also borrow fromnhis own experience. For was he notnthinking of himself when he wrote:n’He always seemed to women othernthan what he was, and they loved innhim a man who instead of being himselfnwas someone created by their imagination,nsomeone they had eagerlynsought all their lives; even later, whennthey saw their mistake, they went onnloving him. And not one of them hadnbeen happy with him. Time passed,nand he went on meeting women, havingnaffairs, and parting, but he hadnnever loved; call it what you please, itnwas not love.'”nIf, as Frayn and others have suggested,nPlatonov is reminiscent of Hamlet,nthen his indecision is most noticeablenin relation to the various women whonvie for his affections. This theme of thenpassive-aggressive roue also emergesnlater in The Seagull, when Trigorin,nthe elder novelist, is reluctantly seducednby the young romantic heroine.nIn Wild Honey, Platonov is besiegednby four types of paramours: a virgin, anwidow, a married woman, and hisnown wife. It’s too tidy a package not tonhave been deliberately chosen by Chekhovnto represent every conceivablentype he could fit into his story. But toncompare Platonov’s romantic behaviorn—his chronic vacillation between seductionnand submission—with Chekhov’snown throughout his life as describednby Troyat, is to assume thatnBOOKS IN BRIEF—SEX AND THE FAMILYnHousing the Elderly, edited by Judith Ann Hancock, New Brunswick: Center for UrbannPolicy Research. A valuable source book on demographic and economic trends in an agingnAmerica. Unfortunately, the contributors are overly eager to meet the needs of the elderlynthrough political initiatives and are reluctant to look at the cultural diseases—materialism,nstatism, Malthusianism, and feminism—that have driven down our birthrate so low thatnthere are too few young to care for the old.nThe Communal Experience of the Kibbutz by Joseph Blasi, New Brunswick: TransactionnBooks; $14.95. A thorough examination of the changing social and political conditionsnwithin an Israeli kibbutz. Symptomatic of the readjustment of Utopian dreams to stubbornnrealities is the abandonment of unisex ideology within the kibbutz and the voluntary return tonlargely traditional sex roles.nMothers in Prison by Phillis Jo Baunach, New Brunswick: Transaction Books; $19.95. Andepressing look at mothers who “do” drugs while waiting for the next visits from theirnchildren: It is not just the sins of the fathers that are visited upon the heads of the children.nMassacre of the Innocents: Infanticide in Great Britain, 1800-1939 by Lionel Rose, NewnYork: Routledge & Kegan Paul/Methuen; $33.00. Scholarly light on a dark subject.nAlthough the research is painstaking and convincing, the reader may have doubts about thenappended moral that “the death of’surplus’ or unwanted babies was a biological necessity at antime when birth control was scarcely understood.”nChoice and Circumstances: Racial Differences in Adolescent Sexuality and Fertility bynKristin A. Moore, Margaret C. Simons, and Charles L. Betsey, New Brunswick: TransactionnBooks; $19.95. The authors demonstrate their professional credentials in explaining thendifferences between black and white sexual attitudes and behavior. But when it comes tonmoral questions, they prove to be less reliable.nFeminism in France: From May ’68 to Mitterrand by Claire Duchen, New York: Routledgen& Kegan Paul/Methuen; $12.95. It’s a long and dreary descent from “vive la difference” tonlesbian demonstrations in Paris. The best news Duchen has to offer is that once in power,nFrench feminists (like their American counterparts) often forget about ideology in order tonpursue private ambition.nnnChekhov had determined his own fatenby prefabricating his own character.nIt’s as if he practiced the life he conceivednwhen he was 21 (or possiblyneven younger) for an older, fictitiousncharacter. A more logical explanationnmay be that he instinctively recognizednwho he was and then proceedednto fulfill his destiny. In any case, therenis much to suggest that Wild Honey isnautobiographical in a curious, anticipatorynway—and that it deserves farnmore attention than it’s received thusnfar, as a result of Frayn’s accomplishment.nIf Platonov is the epitome of anscoundrel who invites countless affectionsnwithout really delivering, it’snhard not to notice other implicationsnfiguring in Chekhov’s life. DespitenFrayn’s contention, in his introductionnto the published version of WildnHoney, that the main character Platonovn”is not really like anyone else atnall; he is not even remotely like hisnauthor,” the play not only confirmsnthe similarities but suggests still othernautobiographical connections that, asnfar as I can tell, have not been detectednbefore.nRegardless of the outstanding questionnof when the play was writtenn(either when Chekhov was 18 or 21),nChekhov obviously had his provincialnexperiences in mind.nTwo of Chekhov’s three brothersnescaped the family and their strictnpaterfamilias by moving to Moscownwhile Chekhov was an adolescent.nSome years later, Chekhov’s fathernalso stole away to Moscow, abandoningnhis wife, his daughter, and his sonnAnton. (Interestingly enough, Chekhov,nTennessee Williams, and as wenlearn now from Broadway Bound,nNeil Simon, were all “abandoned” byntheir fathers—perhaps the trauma thatnmakes for lifelong drama.) Chekhov’snmother and his sister followed thenfather to Moscow within a fewnmonths. But Chekhov, who was 16 atnthe time, remained behind on thenfamily homestead, though it meantnliving as a guest in what used to be hisnparents’ house. He did not move tonMoscow himself until three yearsnlater.nA special reading of WiH Honey—antitle Frayn lifted from his translation ofnthe text—suggests that through Platonov,nChekhov projected himself into an