A Work of Art
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), sometimes referred to as the chronicler of the Russian period of depression and pessimism, was the leader of the realistic school of the Russian short story. His ability to create an atmosphere and build to a climax is unparalleled. He takes a moment in the protagonists' lives and reveals their souls in a handful of phrases. Mediocrity, pettiness, emptiness and meaninglessness are core themes as he strips bare the rot at the core of social structures. A Work of Art, which lampoons a set of characters bound by social morals, also reveals Chekhov as a wry humorist. A doctor is presented with a fabulous - but unsuitably erotic - work of art. He is unable to refuse it and decides to give it away as a gift...to a friend who also finds it embarrassingly inappropriate and in turn struggles to pass it on.