The Classics in the Russian Theatre may be divided in three: Shakespeare, European writers of the past other than Shakespeare, Russian playwrights of the early and middle nineteenth century. A play that has suffered more misinterpretation than any other Russian Classic. A play that does not, as has been assumed, satirise patriarchal Russia: the rod is wielded not by a patriarch, but a mother-in-law of tragic dimensions, despotic, reactionary, and maliciously pious, in a household ridden by fraudulent beggars and drunken priests. In the nineteenth century the interest of this magnificent play was purely personal. In 1935 the Moscow Art Theatre produced it, and in this undoubtedly the balance of the work was restored: people as living people, making, as much as made by, the circumstances in which they live. Great writers are of their own time, earnestly, passionately, even if their passion is sometimes more hatred than love.