Letters of Anton Chekhov, by Anton Chekhov

To His Brother Mihail.

YALTA, October 26, 1898.

. . . I am buying a piece of land in Yalta and am going to build so as to have a place in which to spend the winters. The prospect of continual wandering with hotel rooms, hotel porters, chance cooking, and so on, and so on, alarms my imagination. Mother will spend the winter with me. There is no winter here; it’s the end of October, but the roses and other flowers are blooming freely, the trees are green and it is warm.

There is a great deal of water. Nothing will be needed apart from the house, no outbuildings of any sort; it will all be under one roof. The coal, wood and everything will be in the basement. The hens lay the whole year round, and no special house is needed for them, an enclosure is enough. Close by there is a baker’s shop and the bazaar, so that it will be very cosy for Mother and very convenient. By the way, there are chanterelles and boletuses to be gathered all the autumn, and that will be an amusement for Mother. I am not doing the building myself, the architect is doing it all. The houses will be ready by April. The grounds, for a town house, are considerable. There will be a garden and flowerbeds, and a vegetable garden. The railway will come to Yalta next year. . . .

As for getting married, upon which you are so urgent — what am I to say to you? To marry is interesting only for love; to marry a girl simply because she is nice is like buying something one does not want at the bazaar solely because it is of good quality.

The most important screw in family life is love, sexual attraction, one flesh, all the rest is dreary and cannot be reckoned upon, however cleverly we make our calculations. So the point is not in the girl’s being nice but in her being loved; putting it off as you see counts for little. . . .

My “Uncle Vanya” is being done all over the province, and everywhere with success. So one never knows where one will gain and where one will lose; I had not reckoned on that play at all. . . .

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