Letters of Anton Chekhov, by Anton Chekhov

To Madame Avilov.

MELIHOVO, April 29, 1892.

. . . Yes, it is nice now in the country, not only nice but positively amazing. It’s real spring, the trees are coming out, it is hot. The nightingales are singing, and the frogs are croaking in all sorts of tones. I haven’t a halfpenny, but the way I look at it is this: the rich man is not he who has plenty of money, but he who has the means to live now in the luxurious surroundings given us by early spring. Yesterday I was in Moscow, but I almost expired there of boredom and all manner of disasters. Would you believe it, a lady of my acquaintance, aged forty-two, recognized herself in the twenty-year-old heroine of my story, “The Grasshopper” and all Moscow is accusing me of libelling her. The chief proof is the external likeness. The lady paints, her husband is a doctor, and she is living with an artist.

I am finishing a story (“Ward No. 6”), a very dull one, owing to a complete absence of woman and the element of love. I can’t endure such stories. I write it as it were by accident, thoughtlessly.

Yes, I wrote to you once that you must be unconcerned when you write pathetic stories. And you did not understand me. You may weep and moan over your stories, you may suffer together with your heroes, but I consider one must do this so that the reader does not notice it. The more objective, the stronger will be the effect.

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