The Google gods are benevolent and generous. They care for us and are always listening to our Boolean prayers so that they might deliver the thing we most need at the moment it is most needed.
What? You don’t believe? You doubt the awesome, sometimes terrible, mercy of the Algorithm Almighty? Behold this item presented to me as gift in my morning Google news feed: “The Chekhov Sentence That Contains Almost All of Life” by Joe Fassler, published this very morning at 6am on the Atlantic culture site and tucked neatly in my news feed between headlines about Hurricane Florence and FEMA/ICE funding.
If you’ve been following in recent days, you will know that I’ve been pondering the significance of Anton Chekov and trying to puzzle out the power of his short story style. I used, just yesterday, the last sentence of Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Dog” to reflect on Chekhov’s ability to start and end a story at an unexpected place. Fassler’s piece is actually an interview with Gary Shteyngart, who offers the last line of “The Lady with the Dog” as an encapsulating statement on the situation of life. The story never ends. The lovers don’t break up. They don’t live happily ever after. They continue to struggle. They struggle because their lives are complicated. They struggle because they are deeply in love. They struggle because they are people and struggle is what people do.
Shteyngart offers the unresolved situation between the lovers as the unresolved situation for writers and parents and husbands and wives and teachers and oh just everybody.
“Personal growth is not some sudden breakthrough that solves everything. Instead, it’s incredibly protracted, hard-won, and painful. If anything, you’re less happy as a result, not more. But you get the sense the characters wouldn’t trade it. The final insight of this ending is that there is no final insight, there is no ending. You only keep on striving, and that’s the beauty.”
The article is short and definitely worth a read. Fassler and Shteyngart offer more insight about Chekhov in a few paragraphs than I could muster in a week of thought and two blog posts.
Truly, I say, the Google gods love us. They are listening. They provide a news feed both rich and bountiful. Give thanks.