Writing Advice From Anton Chekhov: Part Three – Ambiguity

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)

A WORD FITLY SPOKEN

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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