The way people speak without listening

How to define the timeless, seductive allure of Chekhov? Part of it lies in his elusiveness, subtlety, adroit dialogue, precise descriptions and confident use of understatement. Unlike Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, there is no sermonising, no extremes. He never tells us what to think. There are no heroes. There is little action. Chekhov instead makes telling use, as Eudora Welty once noted, of the way people speak without listening to each other. No one grasps the relevance of the untidy present better than Chekhov.

Eileen Battersby