“Your turning cold on me is terrible, I can’t believe it, it’s as if I’d woken up and found the lake had suddenly dried up or drained away into the ground.”
Having recently been in a bit of a reading rut, of late I’ve found myself turning away from the more conventional novels on my reading list, and opting for plays instead. This in turn has lead me away from my To-Be-Read pile entirely, and towards a longstanding favourite: Chekhov’s ‘The Seagull’.
Now though it is obviously a multi-layered piece, at its heart, it tells the story of a young playwright and his doomed relationships with the women that surround him. And so if you asked me to summarise the play in oh, say, fourteen lines, I think I would end up with something that went a little like this:
A petit bourgeois from Kiev was I,
Whose reputation lay in art’s new forms.
But with a mother’s love that had run dry
I hoped for Nina to replace her scorn.
But alas! The writer that ensnared her!
He was no Tolstoy, nor was he Zola.
The same who turned my mother’s heart so tender
carried away Nina Zarechnaya.
The burning of the days, it saw no end,
with thoughts of her so difficult to cull.
When she returned, my ear I did but lend
But oh life! Give me the fate of that seagull!
To know she mourns, and yet still loves him so?
My soul, shattered. My body too must go.
– Matilda Dancing