The retrécissement of novel-space that took place at the end of the last chapter as Levin and Kitty bend over their sleeping child has more than psychological significance. When it is contrasted with, for example, the grand movement of dispersion that is the dramatic and didactic highlight of the last act of Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard (1902–3), it seems to bear the directly opposite political message. The sale of the orchard is a financial necessity; it may also be moral duty; but it is above all a collective release, enabling Trofimov to exclaim with exhilaration that now, ‘The whole of Russia is our cherry-orchard!’ With all the characters except Firs forced out into the world, many of them, like Gaev, to earn their living for the first time, one can easily say that the play is prophetic of the changes to come to the whole country. While Chekhov never specifically mentions revolution, Trofimov’s hailing of a glorious future can be allowably connected to that event, while some specific details that he envisages have been visibly realised. The modern Soviet Union has certainly provided crèches for its children, and Lenin’s aim of universal literacy has involved the construction of libraries in every town. All of which seems to form a strange contrast with the inward-looking preoccupations of the Count and Countess Levin.
KeywordsLiterary Production Literary Work Literary Text Historical Situation Russian Revolution
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