Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ladies, Dogs, Readers: How Light is Thrown

These words of Anton Chekhov from "The Lady With the Dog," (tr. Garnett) so ordinary, for some reason move me to comment:

These words, so ordinary, for some reason moved Gurov to indignation, and struck him as degrading and unclean. What savage manners, what people! What senseless nights, what uninteresting, uneventful days! The rage for card-playing, the gluttony, the drunkenness, the continual talk always about the same thing. Useless pursuits and conversations always about the same things absorb the better part of one's time, the better part of one's strength, and in the end there is left a life grovelling and curtailed, worthless and trivial, and there is no escaping or getting away from it -- just as though one were in a madhouse or a prison.
I just can't relate; I'm utterly at sea trying to scratch out some semblance of what the source of the discontent might be. What a Gloomy Gus, that Chekhov.

Seriously, though, I had somehow managed to miss reading this story until very recently (or if I did, I had forgotten doing so), so I am late to the realization of how much it informs The Reader, by which I mean the film but the same may apply to the novel from which it is adapted. Something, including but not limited to the film's explicit references to the story, tell me that re-viewing the film after reading the story will enable a deeper appreciation of previously unobserved layers and implications. "Light will be thrown" and so on.

The more you learn, the more you learn of new things to learn.

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