At my age I have come to realize – perhaps the
last 2 months have made everybody realize –
that the best guide to our world is Shakespeare’s
world. And that everything that we see that makes
it look like it’s not Shakespeare’s world is an
Also I’ve been reading the fairly long last stories
of Checkhov that Edmund Wilson organized together
several years ago in an Anchor Book called
_Peasants and other Stories_ . They were written in
1903-1904 just before his death, and are a portrait
of Russion society just before the revolution of 1905,
which Checkhov did not live to see.
The serfs have been emancipated and become, some of
them, businessmen, shopkeepers, engineers – but are still
not accepted socially, and are unsure of their lives.
The factory workers live in “dorms” like animals.
The peasants are still starvingly poor.
And so on.