Letters of Anton Chekhov, by Anton Chekhov

To His Brother Alexandr.

IRKUTSK, June 5, 1890.


It is, of course, unpleasant to live in Siberia; but better to live in Siberia and feel oneself a man of moral worth, than to live in Petersburg with the reputation of a drunkard and a scoundrel. No reference to present company.

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Siberia is a cold and long country. I drive on and on and see no end to it. I see little that is new or of interest, but I feel and experience a great deal. I have contended with flooded rivers, with cold, with impassable mud, hunger and sleepiness: such sensations as you could not get for a million in Moscow! You ought to come to Siberia. Ask the authorities to exile you.

The best of all Siberian towns is Irkutsk. Tomskis not worth a brass farthing, and the district towns are no better than the Kryepkaya in which you were so heedlessly born. What is most provoking, there is nothing to eat in the district towns, and oh dear, how conscious one is of that on the journey! You get to a town and feel ready to eat a mountain; you arrive and — alack! — no sausage, no cheese, no meat, no herring even, but the same insipid eggs and milk as in the villages.

On the whole I am satisfied with my expedition, and don’t regret having come. The travelling is hard, but the resting after it is delightful. I rest with enjoyment.

From Irkutsk I shall make for Baikal, which I shall cross by steamer; it’s a thousand versts from the Baikal to the Amur, and thence I shall go by steamer to the Pacific, where the first thing I shall do is to have a bath and eat oysters.

I got here yesterday and went first of all to have a bath, then to bed. Oh, how I slept! I never understood what sleep meant till now.

* * * * *

I bless you with both hands.

Your Asiatic brother,
A. Chekhov.


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