There had been sceptics, agnostics, doubters, questioners of every kind before Chekhov, but perhaps no writer in whom the utter mysteriousness of existence was felt so deeply, or counterpoised by such inexhaustible interest in the teeming variety of forms – human and otherwise – in which it manifests itself.
"What kept these sixty-five thousand people going? That's what I couldn't see . . . what our town was and what it did, I had no idea."