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The Chekhov story - a personal impression,
This review is from: Stories of Anton Chekhov (Paperback)
A number of readers on Amazon have written that this is the finest of all Chekhov collections in English. Perhaps that is so, but my thought about the various Chekhov collections is that each one of them contains real treasures and each one gives a sense of the essence of Chekhov.
So what I will do here is simply write a few of my thoughts on my recent reading of Chekhov in the hope that they may be of interest to a reader or two.
The Chekhov stories are among the best I have ever read. One element in this is I sense a certain love and respect the author has for his characters even when he may be mocking them. Another element is Chekhov's ability to teach us how to see the character from inside. Chekhov writes with sympathy and insight of the inner lives of others. His work is filled with dreams and longings and disappointments and many great loves. He seems to delight in portraying idiosyncratic characters with great affection. His stories are famous for not ` telling stories' but that is not I think the case. Often his stories do contain within them the narrative of what the person has lived.
As I do not know Russian I cannot fully appreciate the stories, or appreciate his special idiom.But they have a feeling of Russian lavishness, drunkenness, of Russian generosity. They also present the Russian world and Russian nature and have a kind of wild poetry in them .Chekhov sees people and things from inside and sympathetically and he gives the reader a sense of his affection for them. With Chekhov there is a sense of the controlling voice of the writer behind the story as a good person.
Chekhov also is very strong on the theme of reality encountering dream, and knocking it on the head. While he does write of the inner lives of people with sympathy he seems to do it with a kind of scientific objectivity. There is something very convincing about the way his pictures are painted. His characters perhaps because they are Russians know how to go on and on . And often at the heart of the story is a brilliant monologue in which a soul and life are revealed.
Chekhov too has a very strong sense of human foible and folly. There is much comedy and contradiction in his work. And there is a strong sense of his ` realism' in these depictions.
What Chekhov says about life ultimately is difficult to say. Disappointment is the lot of many of his heroes, and illusion is their stock in trade. Dreaming drives so many of them. And many live by fixed ideas which even when they realize seem to mock at them. There is romantic love in Chekhov, great passion and there is too human tenderness and affection. But most of his heroes live crying out inside,while the world outside goes about its business.