“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?” (And our own Sonya Chung argues that personal character was in fact his “general idea.”)
“…a range of products appeared on the market carrying Pushkin’s image to the masses – cigarettes, matches, candy, pens, stationery, inkstands, liqueur, knives, watches, vases, cups, shoes, dresses, lamps, fans and perfumes. There was even a board game called ‘Pushkin’s Duel.'” The omnipresent cultural status of Pushkin in Russia.
Adding to a review by Pamela Erens for The Millions, Zoë Heller reads Janet Malcolm’s Forty One False Starts for the New York Review of Books. Among other things, she concludes that the writer’s job, at least in Malcolm’s estimation, is “to vanquish mess.” (You could also read a review in The Nation I wrote about a few weeks ago.)