Great blog post by Neal Abbott on the motives, purpose, meanings, intentions, and literary style and approach of Chekhov from his “A Word Fitly Spoken” blog (view the full article as initially posted on his blog here: https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/writing-advice-from-anton-chekhov-part-three-ambiguity/comment-page-1/?unapproved=3349&moderation-hash=379fe5ae36cd0d349f5fb4e15d913fc4#comment-3349)
’It seems to me that the writer should not try to solve such questions as those of God, pessimism, etc. His business is but to describe those who have been speaking or thinking about God and pessimism, how and under what circumstances. The artist should be not the judge of his characters and their conversations, but only an unbiased observer […]
You are right in demanding that an artist should take an intelligent attitude to his work, but you confuse two things: solving a problem and stating a problem correctly. It is only the second that is obligatory for the artist […]
When I write, I reckon entirely upon the reader to add for himself the subjective elements that are lacking in the story’
(The Letters of Anton Chekhov)
Anton Chekhov is held up as the paragon of Minimalism. To me Minimalism is another way of describing good writing. In fact, I once heard Minimalism called Essentialism. Everything in the text is essential to the text.
To include the unnecessary is therefore bad writing. This is more than in details given in scenery or physical descriptions, it also has to do with subject matter and theme. No one ever called Chekhov an activist writer. Such he would abhor. One of the greatest contributions Chekhov ever made to the realm of Creative Writing was perfecting and demonstrating the craft of Ambiguity. None achieved it better with the possible exception of Shakespeare.
The Unbiased Observer
“It seems to me that the writer should not try to solve such questions as those of God, pessimism, etc. His business is but to describe those who have been speaking or thinking about God…
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