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Tony Grist

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Chekhov Again [Nov. 13th, 2007|10:31 am]
Tony Grist

Chekhov's stories are all very much the same. The narrator or protagonist is looking back on his life (as often as not he's dying) and he wonders what the point of it was. There have been good times but they're long ago and opportunities were missed and love has faded. Nothing lasts and all we're really doing here on earth is trying to fill up the time before death claims us. 

It's a point of view.

Crepuscular, fin de siecle, mildly depressive, sleepy...

The harmonies he achieves make one think he's told it all and told it true, but he's working with a highly restricted palette- all greys and browns and olive drab.  

There's a revolution coming- only twenty years away- and people like the people he writes about are going to be disinherited and sent into exile and shot in their hundreds of thousands. And where are the intimations of that?


[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2007-11-13 11:50 am (UTC)
There you go. The middle classes didn't see it coming. They got smug, and that's how it happened!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-11-13 12:09 pm (UTC)
That's right.

Smug and powerless. No-one in Chekhov seems to have the ability to make decisions or change anything. Sometimes you want to kick them.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2007-11-13 01:41 pm (UTC)
Just like the plays in fact. I have always found it hard to empathise with such wet characters. Want to give that Uncle Vanya a good slap! Bring on the peasants - up the Revolution! (no, that was flippant, wasn't it?)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-11-13 02:18 pm (UTC)
I've been reading "A Dreary Story"- yes, that's really the title- and it's about this distinguished elderly academic who is totally incapable of reaching out to the people who love and need him. And I want to ask "why?"- why is this highly educated, self-aware, whiny sonofabitch incapable of even the slightest gesture of empathy, sympathy, fellow-feeling- and the only answer I can come up with is that Chekhov has loaded the dice. I mean, God forbid that a single story of his should end on a note of hope.

On the other hand the story is clearly a masterpiece.
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