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The literary and educational exposition "The Writer's Kitchen”, a.k.a. "The Writer's inner workings," is intended to enlarge the existing memorial expositions of the museum and the traditional "museum story" about the writer. It provides our visitors with insights into the way Chekhov worked as a writer.

The image of "Kitchen" in Russian and "The Writer's inner workings", as a semantic translation into English, were not chosen at random. Anton Pavlovich sometimes compared his writing work with cooking in a kitchen. Once he wrote to Nikolai Leykin, the publisher of the popular humorous magazine “Oskolki ” **(Fragments): "I'll bake lots of short stories..." Then he reported to his associate, doctor Piotr Kurkin: "... I'm sitting and cooking in my kitchen." Once, describing his state of health, Chekhov noted: "... I'm feeling sluggish, like a macaroni tube boiled to rags, and I am unable to work." When Chekhov was working on his story "Examination for a Rank " staying in the country on his dacha (summer cottage), he wrote in his letter to Nokolai Leykin again: "The dacha first pancake was… a blob." When Chekhov was hardly coping with efforts to finish reading novel The Polaniecki Family, a.k.a. Children of the Soil by Henryk Sienkiewicz, he called it …a Polish Easter cottage cheese cake with saffron.”

As we mentioned above, the literal translation of the title of this page from Russian into English is "The Writer's Kitchen". However, the semantic translation would be:

"The Writer’s Inner Workings". Therefore, to convey the true meaning of what "the writer's kitchen" actially is, we need to describe it as follows:

The Writer’s Kitchen a.k.a.The Writer’s inner workings means:

- a space, i.e. the place where the writer creates his works, his study or library, writing-desks;

- a private household – arrangement of the writer’s creative tools (notebooks, manuscripts, accessories);

- a process - is a creative procedure with its own individual features and habits;

- a combination of recipes (writer’s poetics of language, artistic method).

You can explore the system of Chekhov's artistic principles in the "Recipe Book". It contains everything that Chekhov wrote about issues of poetics during his lifetime. As a housewife spent her whole life (at least, it used to be so) collecting recipes in a book, so, we can find the same here. The book contains Chekhov's numerous tips to young writers, friends, as well as to his elder brother Alexander.

Young aspiring authors often sent Chekhov their works to get his opinion and get an advice. He did not refuse them at all, and helped to edit their manuscripts. Sometimes they even sent him their poems. But, as Chekhov himself once admitted: "Poetry is not my sphere, since I have never composed verses, my brain refuses to keep them in my mind, and I can only feel them, just like music, however, I cannot say definitely why I feel pleasure or boredom in them. ... I just usually confine myself only to writing whether: I "like" or "dislike" them."

Chekhov described his writing work as follows: "I can write only using my memories, and I have never written directly from nature. I need my memory to sieve through the plot, and that only what is important or typical, would remain on it, as on a filter" (December 27, 1897, to Fyodor D. Batyushkov).

The “ready-made meals” of the writer's "cooking art" were numerous works of various genres. As the writer admitted himself: "... except for a novel, poems and denunciations, I have tried everything. I have written short novels, stories, vaudevilles, editorials, humorous pieces, and all sorts of nonsense… Having settled at a short novel, I can set to write stories; if the latter are not good, I can grab onto a vaudeville, and on it goes, even until my deadly end." (Chekhov to the poet A.N. Pleshcheyev, September 14, 1889)

In the "kitchen" you can see what "ingredients" Chekhov's works were composed of.

The second floor of the exposition is devoted to the writing habits and unique aspects of Anton Pavlovich's way of working.

The process of Chekhov's working on his piece of writing consisted of several stages: accumulating and taking off the relevant materials, thinking procedure, writing and finishing.

Unfortunately, the writer used to burn manuscripts of his works. "... you write to me that you have the play; after all, it is the only copy, so, mind it, and don't lose it, otherwise it would be really very funny. Because, I have already burnt the draft sheets", Chekhov wrote to his wife, Olga L. Knipper–Chekhova, about the play "The Cherry Orchard".

Accordingly, there are very few Chekhov manuscripts left. Now they are stored in the following archives: Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (RGALI), Institute of Russian Literature or Pushkin House (IRLI), Russian State Library RGB). The only story, whose all versions of the manuscripts have survived, is the story "The Bride". It brings us to follow all the stages of his work on creative projects.  "The Bride" was the last work by Chekhov. The writer simply did not have enough time to destroy the manuscripts.

Thus, the survived draft sheets make it possible follow all the stages of his work on this story: his outlines in his notebook – draft manuscript – fair copy – first galley proof – second proof in galley – third proof in galley – fourth proof in galley, and finally – publication in a magazine. The set of these proofs shows us how carefully Chekhov worked on the text.

The diagram allows us to follow the entire creative journey of the writer (over a period of 24 years). Here, you can also see which literary genres prevailed in one or another period of the writer's creative career.

The interactive table could be a valuable addition to our story about Chekhov's work as a writer. The material contained within, is grouped into sort of files, thus making up a kind of archive.

It has to be noted that Chekhov always treated his various papers, receipts, letters, etc. with due care. He had everything organized in group files and systematized. In his letter to well-known actor, theatre critic and playwright Vladimir A. Tikhonov on February 10, 1889, Chekhov wrote: "Would you kindly bother to send me that № (the back issue of newspaper Nedelya, - translator’s note) where Your review was placed? I will read it and add it to the pile of reviews that make up the bulky “File of Ivanov” in my archive." ***

The interactive table displays files (they also may be called as records) about the writer's notebooks, his various pen names, and the creative heart beating. Whereas, in the "paper" archive you can find out the "File of the first publication", the «File of autobiographophobia", as well as can see drawings by Chekhov and his captions to them.

Translator’s notes:

* “The Writer’s Kitchen”

stands for "The Writer's inner workings” (as semantic translation of The Writer’s Kitchen);

** “Oskolki ” (Fragments) was a Russian humorous, literary and artistic weekly magazine published in St Petersburg from 1881 to 1916. Fragments played an important part in the early career of Anton Chekhov. From 1882 to 1887 Fragments published more than 270 of short stories by young Chekhov.

*** Here, Chekhov means a positive response of Vladimir A. Tikhonov to his new play Ivanov staged in Saint Petersburg. This press notice was published in newspaper Nedelya (The Week). It was a Russian liberal political and literary newspaper, published in Saint Petersburg from 1866 to 1901.