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14

Chekhov's Anger

0
terms
3
notes

Hass, R. (2012). Chekhov's Anger. In Hass, R. What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World. Ecco, pp. 14-31

16

I suppose these stories are the equivalent of newspaper cartoons. They call for a quick, cynical laugh. Chekhov got very adept at writing them, and he must have learned a lot about condensing his material, since some of the papers paid more for short effective pieces than for longer ones. Later he was always advising young writers to cross out, even Maxim Gorky, and especially—here is a bit of Chekhov’s letter to Gorky—“to cross out as many adjectives and adverbs as you can. You have so many modifiers that the reader has trouble understanding and gets worn out. It is comprehensible when I write: ‘The man sat on the grass,’ because it is clear and does not detain one’s attention. On the other hand, it is difficult to figure out and hard on the brain if I write: ‘The tall, narrow-chested man of medium height and with a red beard sat down on the green grass that had already been trampled down by the pedestrians, sat down silently, looking around timidly and fearfully.’ The brain can’t grasp all of that at once, and art must be grasped at once, instantaneously.” His favorite sentence in the Russian language, he said, was one written by a classmate of his in grammar school. It went: “The sea is large.”

—p.16 by Robert Hass 2 years, 11 months ago

I suppose these stories are the equivalent of newspaper cartoons. They call for a quick, cynical laugh. Chekhov got very adept at writing them, and he must have learned a lot about condensing his material, since some of the papers paid more for short effective pieces than for longer ones. Later he was always advising young writers to cross out, even Maxim Gorky, and especially—here is a bit of Chekhov’s letter to Gorky—“to cross out as many adjectives and adverbs as you can. You have so many modifiers that the reader has trouble understanding and gets worn out. It is comprehensible when I write: ‘The man sat on the grass,’ because it is clear and does not detain one’s attention. On the other hand, it is difficult to figure out and hard on the brain if I write: ‘The tall, narrow-chested man of medium height and with a red beard sat down on the green grass that had already been trampled down by the pedestrians, sat down silently, looking around timidly and fearfully.’ The brain can’t grasp all of that at once, and art must be grasped at once, instantaneously.” His favorite sentence in the Russian language, he said, was one written by a classmate of his in grammar school. It went: “The sea is large.”

—p.16 by Robert Hass 2 years, 11 months ago
27

[...] Summary can’t catch the bedraggled air of the two daring young sinners, who, three days after their defiance of convention, are already starting to feel that vague loneliness that overcomes people who have just done something that is supposed to solve all their problems. [...]

on chekhov's "neighbors"

—p.27 by Robert Hass 2 years, 11 months ago

[...] Summary can’t catch the bedraggled air of the two daring young sinners, who, three days after their defiance of convention, are already starting to feel that vague loneliness that overcomes people who have just done something that is supposed to solve all their problems. [...]

on chekhov's "neighbors"

—p.27 by Robert Hass 2 years, 11 months ago
28

[...] One of the great moments in “Neighbors” occurs when Peter parts from Vlasich and Zina. “Riding into darkness, he looked back and saw Vlasich and Zina walking home along the path—he with long strides, she at his side with quick, jerky steps. They were conducting an animated conversation.” Peter’s loneliness is in that last sentence, and so is the splendid and perfect blindness of the lovers, who will get immense mileage, maybe even years, from conversation about their situation, followed by conversation about how they used to have conversation about their situation, followed by—what? Misery, some happiness, children perhaps, the final collapse of the porch, acrimony, bickering, recrimination, thickened waists, life.

—p.28 by Robert Hass 2 years, 11 months ago

[...] One of the great moments in “Neighbors” occurs when Peter parts from Vlasich and Zina. “Riding into darkness, he looked back and saw Vlasich and Zina walking home along the path—he with long strides, she at his side with quick, jerky steps. They were conducting an animated conversation.” Peter’s loneliness is in that last sentence, and so is the splendid and perfect blindness of the lovers, who will get immense mileage, maybe even years, from conversation about their situation, followed by conversation about how they used to have conversation about their situation, followed by—what? Misery, some happiness, children perhaps, the final collapse of the porch, acrimony, bickering, recrimination, thickened waists, life.

—p.28 by Robert Hass 2 years, 11 months ago