Egon Savin: Chekhov introduced time to drama and drama to time. His characters keep wondering if it is possible to close one’s eyes to past mistakes and make up for opportunities lost.
We make ourselves believe that the time which is irretrievably behind us, that brought with it the years and the weariness can, from one moment to the next, become unreal, so we can start again right from that point in time when things started to go wrong. But the future we hope for does not come and the new life was never really possible.
We can improve the conditions in society as much as we like, but there will always be people whose hopes will be dashed, whose ambitions will fail, men who will fall desperately in love with women who do not love them, who will not know how to take advantage of the opportunities that come their way. Some will prefer useless beauty and their own sacrifice to profit or gain.
There will always be people who will be unhappy for reasons that no society can resolve because the reasons for their unhappiness are not political but existential. Chekhov’s play is steeped in the time that brought with it the events we shall witness and which will be swept away by the time that continues to flow. Uncle Vanya is a story of ‘time running out’, of how the years of our lives turn into months and days turn into hours and minutes, only to flow into and join the endlessly flowing current of time. A current with no riverbanks.
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