Chekhov's last play was written in the final year of his life when he was desperately ill with the tuberculosis that had overshadowed so much of his life. Yet, despite his own tragic circumstances, he remained defiantly insistent that his play was exactly as specified in the subtitle - 'A Comedy in Four Acts'. From his letters and notebooks, he appears to have been retracing his own comic roots, glancing back to the example of one of his favourite comic writers, Nikolai Gogol, whose “laughter through tears” formula would have commended itself to Chekhov: “I dream of writing a very funny play where the devil would go about in a whirlwind of chaos.” It seems an unusually puckish and mischievous project for a dying writer, but …
Reid, John. "Vishnevyi sad". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 November 2001; last revised 30 November -1.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=1309, accessed 26 April 2015.]