Letters of Anton Chekhov, by Anton Chekhov

To A. S. Suvorin.

ALEXIN, May 18, 1891.

. . . I get up at five o’clock in the morning; evidently when I am old I shall get up at four. My forefathers all got up very early, before the cock. And I notice people who get up very early are horribly fussy. So I suppose I shall be a fussy, restless old man. . . .


. . . The carp bite capitally. I forgot all my sorrows yesterday; first I sat by the pond and caught carp, and then by the old mill and caught perch.

. . . The last two proclamations — about the Siberian railway and the exiles — pleased me very much. The Siberian railway is called a national concern, and the tone of the proclamation guarantees its speedy completion; and convicts who have completed such and such terms as settlers are allowed to return to Russia without the right to live in the provinces of Petersburg and Moscow. The newspapers have let this pass unnoticed, and yet it is something which has never been in Russia before — it is the first step towards abolishing the life sentence which has so long weighed on the public conscience as unjust and cruel in the extreme. . . .

BOGIMOVO, May 27, 4 o’clock in the Morning.

The mongoose has run away into the woods and has not come back. It is cold. I have no money. But nevertheless, I don’t envy you. One cannot live in town now, it is both dreary and unwholesome. I should like you to be sitting from morning till dinner-time in this verandah, drinking tea and writing something artistic, a play or something; and after dinner till evening, fishing and thinking peaceful thoughts. You have long ago earned the right which is denied you now by all sorts of chance circumstances, and it seems to me shameful and unjust that I should live more peacefully than you. Is it possible that you will stay all June in town? It’s really terrible. . . .

. . . By the way, read Grigorovitch’s letter to my enemy Anna Ivanovna. Let her soul rejoice. “Chekhov belongs to the generation which has perceptibly begun to turn away from the West and concentrate more closely on their own world. . . . ” “Venice and Florence are nothing else than dull towns for a man of any intelligence. . . . ” Merci, but I don’t understand persons of such intelligence. One would have to be a bull to “turn away from the West” on arriving for the first time in Venice or Florence. There is very little intelligence in doing so. But I should like to know who is taking the trouble to announce to the whole universe that I did not like foreign parts. Good Lord! I never let drop one word about it. I liked even Bologna. Whatever ought I to have done? Howled with rapture? Broken the windows? Embraced Frenchmen? Do they say I gained no ideas? But I fancy I did. . . .

We must see each other — or more correctly, I must see you. I am missing you already, although to-day I caught two hundred and fifty-two carp and one crayfish.

BOGIMOVO, June 4, 1891.

Why did you go away so soon? I was very dull, and could not get back into my usual petty routine very quickly afterwards. As luck would have it, after you went away the weather became warm and magnificent, and the fish began to bite.

. . . The mongoose has been found. A sportsman with dogs found him on this side of the Oka in a quarry; if there had not been a crevice in the quarry the dogs would have torn the mongoose to pieces. It had been astray in the woods for eighteen days. In spite of the climatic conditions, which are awful for it, it had grown fat — such is the effect of freedom. Yes, my dear sir, freedom is a grand thing.

I advise you again to go to Feodosia by the Volga. Anna Ivanovna and you will enjoy it, and it will be new and interesting for the children. If I were free I would come with you. It’s snug now on those Volga steamers, they feed you well and the passengers are interesting.

Forgive me for your having been so uncomfortable with us. When I am grown up and order furniture from Venice, as I certainly shall do, you won’t have such a cold and rough time with me.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:53