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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Excerpts From the Provinces




March 31, 1892, letter to Alexander Suvorin. "I'm living for the most part for my plants, but I'm constantly poisoned by the thought that I must write, eternally write. I'm writing a story [Ward No. 6]. Before I have it printed, I'd like to send it to you to edit, because to me your opinion is like gold; but I need to hurry, because I have no money."


April 8, 1892, letter to Alexander Suvorin. "The artist Levitan is visiting. Yesterday evening we were out hunting. He shot a snipe. Shot in the wing, it fell in a puddle. I lift it up: It has a long nose, big, black eyes and beautiful feathers. It looked at me with surprise. What was I supposed to do with it? Levitan frowned, closed his eyes and asked me with a trembling voice: 'Dear boy, hit it on the head with the butt of your gun.' I said I couldn't. He keeps nervously shrugging his shoulders, shaking his head and asking me to do it. And the snipe keeps looking at me with that surprised expression. I had to listen to Levitan and kill it. So there's one beautiful, lovelorn creature less, and two fools went home to dinner."


Dec. 8, 1892, to Alexander Suvorin. "Ah, if you knew how exhausted I am! ... Visitors, visitors, visitors ... My estate is located on the Kashirsky road, and every passing intellectual considers it his duty to come by and see me, warm up, sometimes even spend the night. There's been a whole legion of doctors alone! It's pleasant, of course, to be hospitable, but there's a limit. After all, I left Moscow because of all the visitors."


March 1893, to Vladimir Gilyarovsky. "Do you want your friends to forget you? Then buy an estate and go live on it."


June 15, 1893, to Viktor Goltsev. "I'm in Melikhovo. One percent of my time I devote to pen and paper, and 99 percent to various unnecessary affairs, such as hunting for mushrooms, talking with the neighbor, etc. My health, which was always awful, has improved noticeably."


March 1895, to Alexander Suvorin. "All right, I'll get married if you want me to. But my conditions are: Everything must be as it was before, that is, she must live in Moscow, and I in the country, and I shall visit her. I couldn't stand a happiness that went on morning, noon and night. ... I promise to be a splendid husband, but give me a wife who, like the moon, doesn't rise every night in my sky. N.B. Marrying won't make me write any better."


Aug. 29, 1895, to Nikolai Leikin: "I'm not quite well. On Aug. 8, I visited Leo Tolstoy at Yasnaya Polyana and probably caught cold while there or on the way back."


Oct. 18, 1896, to his brother Mikhail Chekhov, on the debut of The Seagull: "The play flopped and fell with a crash. There was a heavy tension of perplexity and shame in the theater. The actors played awfully, stupidly. The moral of the story is: Don't write plays."


Feb. 8, 1897, to Alexander Suvorin: "I'm building another school. A peasant delegation came to see me, and I didn't have the courage to refuse. The regional district council is giving 1,000 rubles, the peasants collected 300 rubles, and it will cost no less than 3,000 to build the school. That means once again I'll have to think all summer about money and get it wherever I can."


June 4, 1899, letter to Mikhail Menshikov. "I'm sitting in my dear Melikhovo, feeling the cold and furiously reading the proofs that [my publisher] has sent to me by the pound ... My sister wants to sell Melikhovo and has already sent the announcements to the papers."