" ...Leo Tolstoy, who became more and more obnoxious as he aged, admired Chekhov's fiction, but detested his plays largely for their 'immorality', but also for their refusal to be useful. After Chekhov's death he told an interviewer: ‘In a dramatic work the author ought to deal with some problem that has yet to be solved and every character ought to solve it according to the idiosyncrasies of his own character. It is like laboratory experiment. But you won't find anything of that kind in Chekhov.'
No, we won't, and we can be grateful for it.”
(Introduction to ‘Anton Chekhov Plays’, 2002)
While searching something, I reached the website of a Marathi daily 'Maharashtra Times' and saw a report describing a cultural function dated December 2012.
I first was glad to read a Marathi writer Milind Bokil (मिलिंद बोकील) saying
"...जीएंना कोणी ' सामाजिक बांधिलकी ' असणारा लेखक म्हणून म्हणणार नाही आणि स्वतः जीएंनीही कधी हा शब्द स्वतःच्या अंगाला लावून घेतला नसता..."
(...No one would call GA a writer with social commitment and GA himself would not let that word stick to his body...)
So far so good. But he doesn't stop at that.
He goes on to say:
"समाजामध्ये ज्यांना दरिद्री , भणंग , बेकार समजले जाते अशा व्यक्तींना जीएंनी आपल्या साहित्यात फार आत्मीयतेने जवळ घेतलेले आहे . केवळ एखाद्या लेखकालाच असू शकते अशा प्रकारची आंतरिक करुणा जीए त्यांच्याप्रती व्यक्त करतात , मग याला कोणी सामाजिक बांधिलकी म्हणो वा न म्हणो"!
(...those who are considered poor, unemployed, subaltern, GA has embraced them with affinity. GA expresses the kind of internal compassion towards them that only a writer can have. One may or may not call it social commitment...")
Mr. Bokil HAD TO say that GA was a writer of some kind of social commitment. (Also read his another statement there...'केवळ एखाद्या लेखकालाच असू शकते अशा प्रकारची आंतरिक करुणा'...internal compassion towards them that only a writer can have...I thought of Jesus, Buddha and Mother Teresa...)
Mr. Bokil also quotes from a speech given in 2009 by the late writer Kamal Desai (कमल देसाई) saying that GA's writing empowered women to fight injustice.
If you want to be called a good writer, you have to be useful! The author has to solve some kind of a problem!
As the quote at the top suggests, it comes from Tolstoy alright. It also probably comes from J S Mill's utilitarianism. [प्रो. वामनराव जोशी: "ज्याने समाजाचे कल्याण होत नाही, जे नीतीला पोषक नाही असे सत्यच आम्हाला नको." (Prof. Vamanrao Joshi: "We just do not want the truth that does not do welfare of the society and the one that does not nourish morality.")]
Later I came a across Emile Zola's 'The Belly of Paris', 1873 in new translation by Mark Kurlansky.
Mr. Kurlansky writes in the introduction, and I am quoting little extensively: