Letters of Anton Chekhov, by Anton Chekhov

To I. L. Shtcheglov.

MOSCOW, April 18, 1888.

. . . In any case I am more often merry than sad, though if one comes to think of it I am bound hand and foot. . . . You, my dear man, have a flat, but I have a whole house which, though a poor specimen, is still a house, and one of two storeys, too! You have a wife who will forgive your having no money, and I have a whole organization which will collapse if I don’t earn a sufficient number of roubles a month — collapse and fall on my shoulders like a heavy stone.

May 3.

. . . I have just sent a story [Footnote: “The Lights.”] to the Syeverny Vyestnik. I feel a little ashamed of it. It is frightfully dull, and there is so much discussion and preaching in it that it is mawkish. I didn’t like to send it, but had to, for I need money as I do air. . . .

I have had a letter from Leman. He tells me that “we” (that is all of you Petersburg people) “have agreed to print advertisements about each other’s work on our books,” invites me to join, and warns me that among the elect may be included only such persons as have a “certain degree of solidarity with us.” I wrote to say that I agreed, and asked him how does he know with whom I have solidarity and with whom I have not? How fond of stuffiness you are in Petersburg! Don’t you feel stifled with such words as “solidarity,” “unity of young writers,” “common interests,” and so on? Solidarity and all the rest of it I admit on the stock-exchange, in politics, in religious affairs, etc., but solidarity among young writers is impossible and unnecessary. . . . We cannot feel and think in the same way, our aims are different, or we have no aims whatever, we know each other little or not at all, and so there is nothing on to which this solidarity could be securely hooked. . . . And is there any need for it? No, in order to help a colleague, to respect his personality and his work, to refrain from gossiping about him, envying him, telling him lies and being hypocritical, one does not need so much to be a young writer as simply a man. . . . Let us be ordinary people, let us treat everybody alike, and then we shall not need any artificially worked up solidarity. Insistent desire for particular, professional, clique solidarity such as you want, will give rise to unconscious spying on one another, suspiciousness, control, and, without wishing to do so, we shall become something like Jesuits in relation to one another. . . . I, dear Jean, have no solidarity with you, but I promise you as a literary man perfect freedom so long as you live; that is, you may write where and how you wish, you may think like Koreisha [Footnote: A well-known religious fanatic in Moscow.] if you like, betray your convictions and tendencies a thousand times, etc., etc., and my human relations with you will not alter one jot, and I will always publish advertisements of your books on the wrappers of mine.


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