Pool of Water, Pool of Light

“Bielokurov came over in a poddiovka, wearing an embroidered shirt . We played croquet and lawn-tennis, and when it grew dark we had a long supper, and Lyda once more spoke of her schools and Balaguin, who had got the whole district into his own hands. As I left the Volchaninovs that night I carried away an impression of a long, long idle day, with a sad consciousness that everything ends, however long it may be. Genya took me to the gate, and perhaps, because she had spent the whole day with me from the beginning to end, I felt somehow lonely without her, and the whole kindly family was dear to me: and for the first time during the whole of that summer I had a desire to work.”  (From The House With the Mezzanine, by Anton Chekhov, 1917)

I don’t normally read things that would be described as Literature, I’m more interested generally in adventure fiction or classic sci-fi, but I do get curious now and then and want to read the good stuff.  It doesn’t last long, but I always find myself moved by the higher works of writing, and of visual art too, even if I don’t attempt to emulate them or study them to the degree that even a half-hearted student would.  So much of art, whether written or visual, is inexpressible and begins and ends in the world of one’s own thoughts.

I found this passage which ended in the statement “and for the first time during the whole of that summer I had a desire to work” both humorous and mysterious.  A strange sort of Russian Walden where the contemplation of one’s environment is a kind of noble idleness and yet clashes with the unavoidable fact that work is necessary to survive and also to make the pursuit of noble things possible.

The image, a filtered banknote put on its side, suggests a deep water-filled cavity with a light-filled upper area which to me is a good illustration of the main character in this short story I was reading.