Sign in  |  Register

The New Criterion

It operates as a refuge for a civilizing element in short supply in contemporary America: honest criticism
- The Wall Street Journal

Features

November 2012

Chekhov's enlightenment

by Gary Saul Morson

On the life, evolution, and legacy of Anton Chekhov.

Chekhov’s contemporaries wondered: What sort of Russian writer was he? He had no solution to the ultimate questions. With no “general idea” to teach, wasn’t he more like a talented Frenchman or Englishman born in the wrong place?

No country ever has valued literature more highly than Russia. When Tolstoy published Anna Karenina, Dostoevsky enthused that at last the existence of the Russian people had been justified! Can anyone imagine an English critic thinking England’s right to exist was in question or discovering it in Bleak House?

Nations, it seemed, live in order to produce great literature, and literature exists to reveal great truths. Science, philosophy, and the other arts are all very well, but nothing rivals poetry and fiction. For Russians, literature played the same role as Scripture did for the ancient Hebrews when it was still possible to add books to the B ...

This article is available to subscribers and for individual purchase

Subscribe to TNC (Print and Online editions)

Subscribe to TNC (Online only)

Purchase article credit and clip this article

If you already have an account login first

Gary Saul Morson is Chair of Slavic Languages & Literature at Northwestern University.


more from this author

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 November 2012, on page 20

Copyright © 2014 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com

http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/Chekhov-s-enlightenment-7471

E-mail to friend


The New Criterion

By the author

The minister of paradox

by Gary Saul Morson

The complicated, often conflicted, life of Alexander Herzen.

Deciphering a cigarette with Joseph Frank

by Gary Saul Morson

A look at the legacy of literary scholar and Dostoevsky biographer Joseph Frank (1918–2013).

You might also enjoy

The ambiguous witness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

by James Nuechterlein

The complicated legacy of the anti-Nazi theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

A schoolboy’s guide to war

by Andrew Stuttaford

How England's public school boys won the First World War.

King cotton

by Gene Dattel

The story of cotton reveals that America's problematic history with race is just as much a northern problem as a southern one.

Most popular

view more >

Subscribe to our newsletter!

* indicates required

Events

October 24 2014

Young friends event: Bushwick Beat Nite


November 04 2014

Friends and Young Friends Event: Election Night Party


November 12 2014

Friends and Young Friends Event: Book Launch Party with Andrew Roberts

Webcasts

The Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity
On May 5, 2014, The New Criterion and PJ Media presented the second Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity. The award is given to highlight egregious examples of dishonest reporting. Also awarded this year was the Rather, a new award for lifetime achievement in mendacious journalism.
The Duranty Prize is named after Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow corresponded in the 1920s and 1930s who whitewashed Joseph Stalin’s forced starvation of the Ukrainians (the Holodomor) and many other aspects of Soviet oppression. Duranty was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his efforts. It has never been revoked.
Audio copyright Ed Driscoll, www.eddriscoll.com.


Introduction to The Kennedy Phenomenon
Roger Kimball introduces The Kennedy Phenomenon, a conference presented by The New Criterion on Tuesday, November 19.


The Kennedy Phenomenon: "Watching the Kennedy Train-Wreck"
Roger Kimball reads Peter Collier’s paper on oft-overlooked unsavory details of the Kennedys' lives. Much of the paper is drawn from Collier’s book, coauthored with David Horowitz, The Kennedys: An American Drama.