CHEKHOV’S HOPES. Tim Parks reviewed in the New York Review of Books (April 5) a memoir of Chekhov by his brother Mikhail and MEMORIES OF CHEKHOV: ACCOUNTS OF THE WRITER FROM HIS FAMILY, FRIENDS AND CONTEMPORARIES (editor Peter Sekirin). I was surprised by this sentence: “Many of the conversations in MEMORIES OF CHEKHOV have the author deeply pessimistic about the present but surprisingly optimistic about a wonderful future hundreds of years hence when man will use science to turn the world into a beautiful garden.” I was surprised because characters in Chekhov’s plays express the same thought. Astrov in Uncle Vanya touches on it: ” It may be that in one or two hundred years posterity, which will despise us for our blind and stupid lives, will find some road to happiness….” Olga at the very end of Three Sisters says: “Time will pass, and we shall go away for ever, and we shall be forgotten, our faces will be forgotten, our voices, and how many there were of us; but our sufferings will pass into joy for those who will live after us, happiness and peace will be established upon earth, and they will remember kindly and bless those who have lived before. ” I think of Chekhov as expressing himself through multiple characters and complex ironies. And yet here apparently are characters speaking directly for him.

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