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Travis review:

This long short story is told from the first person point of view from an artist who believes in not lending a helping hand to the poor as it is an exercise in futility. Simultaneously, Chekhov shows this young, upper class artist spending his days doing nothing of consequence all day long, essentially living a futile existence as he claims the peasants lead. Lida is his polar opposite and argues with him as she organizes subscription campaigns for the poor, makes charity drives, and tries to change the local government. Lida’s younger sister Genya is vacant and undeveloped, both physically and emotionally. She can be easily swayed by either Lida or the artist, depending on the day. Long sections of this four chapter story are intellectual arguments between Lida and the artist about whether the poor are worthy of charity and what is the best for them. At one point the artist makes an argument for a communist type regime: “If all of us, townspeople and country people, all without exception, would agree to divide between us the labour which mankind spends on the satisfaction of their physical needs, each of us would perhaps need to work only for two or three hours a day. Imagine that we all, rich and poor, work only for three hours a day, and the rest of our time is free…” Yet I imagine from his actions throughout the story, that is this is just intellectual hot wind. Just as Genya was not as important to him as he thought she was.

Rating: 6