Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Quote of the Day (Anton Chekhov, on a ‘Sultry and Stifling’ Summer Day)

“A sultry and stifling day. Not a cloud in the sky…The sun-scorched grass looks bleak, hopeless: there may be rain, but it will never be green again…The forest stands silent, motionless, as if its treetops were looking off somewhere or waiting for something.” —Playwright/short-story writer Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), “The Huntsman” (originally published July 1885), in Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (2000)

“The Huntsman” is not part of The Undiscovered Chekhov, a collection of 43 previously untranslated short stories, but it falls within the same period of creation: 1880 to 1887. When Anton Chekhov came to write this tale, he was already aiming for something more ambitious than the quick pieces he dashed off for popular Moscow and St. Petersburg magazines when he was not tending to his medical studies and, later, his patients.

“Write as much as you can! Write, write, write till your fingers break!” the young author wrote in a letter a year after this short story. By the time he was done, Chekhov had learned how to quietly break the hearts of readers and playgoers around the world.

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