James Barham offers (March 12, 2012),
“Another way of understanding Chekhov’s position is as the contrary of John Gray’s. That contemporary pessimist was observed here a while ago to be essentially saying to science and religion: “A plague on both your houses.”
We may think of Chekhov as saying the exact opposite: We need both science and religion. Or, more exactly, we need the core of faith in the goodness of humanity that lies at the common root of both science and religion.
Chekhov’s great subject is how we are to live our lives in the absence of all ideologies—how to get through the “long row of days” facing each of us.
In this, he is the clear forerunner of such twentieth-century writers as Sartre and Camus, and indeed when Sonya tells her uncle that “all we can do is live,” who among us can fail to hear the echo of Beckett’s more familiar lament, “You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on”?
To this fundamental existential dilemma, which has shaped all subsequent Western literature so profoundly, Chekhov contributed a vision of atheist redemption that neither Sartre, nor Camus, nor Beckett any longer felt was available. Chekhov’s particular vision was grounded in his faith that we can rise above the grief and suffering that human beings must inevitably endure by devoting ourselves to the good.”