25 March 2008

"The most desperate of all writers"

Victor Shklovsky, from Energy of Delusion: A Book on Plot, translated by Shushan Avagyan:
In the long story "My Life", Chekhov wrote about a bad architect who designed buildings so badly, planned the interiors so poorly, the facades were all so hideous that people simply got used to the style of this person.

The style of failure becomes the style of the town.

Chekhov hated expositions and denouements; he is the one who revived the two concepts.

I'll repeat once more about how he wrote to his brother saying that the plot must be new and a story isn't always necessary.

By plot he meant the false theatre, the poetics of that theatre, especially the expositions and denouements of plays -- things that the viewer is anticipating with pleasure.

It's like a shot of morphine.

Literature became a place of false denouements, false expositions, false successes, the successes of individual people.

The young boys -- the fugitive convicts who turned rich and cried on the graves of their comrades who didn't fall under the protection of the ancient plot, the happy ending.

Even Dickens, after his discovery of ancient plot, got so bloated that he resembled an old sunken boat.

Chekhov is the most desperate of all writers, he is the most straightforward one.

He doesn't want to soften, loosen the threads of life, he doesn't want to be capable of bending them to make a false happy end.
For another excerpt, see here.