David Madore's WebLog: Gratuitous Literary Fragment #23

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(Sunday)

Gratuitous Literary Fragment #23

It's been a long time since I wrote one in English. Here goes:

At this time, he taught Anglo-Saxon at Leeds. How he came to that position was something of a mystery to us all, since it was obvious that Old English had never been a passion of his: he performed his duties steadily and with competence—but without fervor. For his true loves were far from the harsh verses of Beowulf. The prints of Hiroshige or the chamber music of Brahms were known to move him greatly; but dearest of all to his heart were the short stories of Chekhov. Not that he revered Russian literature in general: he had once admitted, rather shame-facedly, that he never could persuade himself to read Dostoyevski's Crime and Punishment, and even in Pushkin's works he had gone no further than The Captain's Daughter, although his mastery of the language was more than adequate. But—he used to tell us—there has never been an observer of human nature such has Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. Michael was then fond of teasing him by observing that, to his eye, all of Chekhov's characters were similar; to which he would retort that, to his eye, all human beings were similar in the essential respects which Chekhov had, better than anyone, known how to capture. Half-serious conversation of this sort could go on for some time.

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