Saturday, October 18, 2008

From Nabokov's Lectures on Russian Literature

Chekhov's books are sad books for humorous people; that is, only a reader with a sense of humor can really appreciate their sadness....Things for him were funny and sad at the same time, but you would not see their sadness if you did not see their fun, because both were linked up.

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His dictionary is poor, his combination of words almost trivial....he was not a verbal inventor in the sense that Gogol was; his literary style goes to parties clad in its everyday suit. Thus Chekhov is a good example to give when one tries to explain that a writer may be a perfect artist without being exceptionally vivid in his verbal technique or exceptionally preoccupied with the way his sentences curve.

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