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Happy Birthday, Anton Pavlovich!

Happy Birthday, Anton Pavlovich!

Date added:

28 January 2024, Su


Beautiful toasts, enthusiastic speeches, "high" style of congratulations are appropriate on birthdays and anniversaries.... But why on Anton Pavlovich's birthday one wants to do without noise and solemnity, and instead of a ceremonial portrait of the writer - to see a pencil sketch from life? Maybe because Chekhov himself was far from tinsel and pompous words? Today, let the lines of Chekhov's letters and the memoirs of his contemporaries be the touches to a living portrait of the writer.

* His smile was special - many people remembered it. It appeared immediately, quickly and disappeared just as quickly. "Wide, open, full-faced, sincere, but always short. It was as if the man had realised that, perhaps, on this occasion he should not smile any longer.

* His favourite pastime was fishing: "A marvellous pastime! A kind of quiet insanity. It's pleasant for myself and not dangerous for others.

* During the mushroom season, passion interfered with work. The writer apologised to the publishers that his thoughts were occupied with "quiet hunting", so he was not yet able to write.

* He was a gourmet and liked to eat in the best inns and restaurants, but he also appreciated home-made delicacies: "lard is amazing, and the taste and smell of sausage can only be compared to the dream of a 17-year-old Spanish girl. I almost ate too much.

* "I never saw his study untidy, or parts of his toilet scattered in his bedroom, and he himself was always simply but neatly dressed, neither in the morning nor late  in the evening did I ever catch him in his homely way, without collar or tie." 

* When inviting guests, he promised them five bundles of radishes from his vegetable garden, or beer, and to some he threatened: "If you don't come, I wish you to have your trouser straps untied in public in the street.

* He had a sweet tooth. He was especially fond of marmalade and chocolate, and loved homemade jam.

* He liked to play solitaire * He played bingo and croquet.

* He loved his mother tenderly, but this did not prevent him from teasing her about her religiosity. He would ask her: "Mum, do monks wear underpants?", then he would write in his father's diary: "Mum dreamt of a goose in a kamilavka. That's good."

* Among church holidays he loved Easter, especially the solemnity of the bell-ringing of the "forty forties" of the Mother See. When he moved to Yalta, he was sad: "I am bored without Muscovites, and without Moscow newspapers, and without Moscow bells, which I love so much.

* Loved the circus, the opera Carmen, the music of Glinka and Tchaikovsky.

* He appreciated good perfume, and it smelled pleasant in his office. Describing in a letter to an acquaintance of his health problems, Chekhov adds: "You see what a cripple I am. But I carefully hide it and try to appear as a cheerful young man of 28 years, which I succeed very often, as I buy expensive ties and perfume Vera-Violetta.

* Chekhov had a gift of persuasion. Having barely got acquainted with the novice writer, he so actively advised him to go "somewhere far away, a thousand versts away, two, three" that he obeyed and in a few days was already beyond the Urals. The result of the trip was a whole series of Siberian stories, which opened for him the pages of the best magazines.

* He was very rarely angry. The actor Kachalov recalled: "Once only once I saw him get angry, even blushed. It was when we played in the "Hermitage". At the end of the play at the exit stood a crowd of students and wanted to give him an ovation. It drove him into a terrible rage".

* With love for the lesser brothers, he made no exceptions. Surprisingly, having waged a serious war against mice, he would take a mouse from the mousetrap, carefully by the tail, carry it outside the fence... and release it there.

* He did not like the sight of cut flowers and took all the bouquets into another room after the guests had left. But when female admirers asked for a bouquet from his garden, he could not refuse. But cut "ripe" flowers, those that were already time to cut, and "Chekhov's" roses sometimes began to crumble dear, to the great chagrin of dacha girls.

* Forgetting his early humour stories. His brother once sorted through old magazines and read the stories aloud. Chekhov laughed: "Is this my story? I don't remember it at all! But it's funny..."

* Once recognised his own story. The editor of the magazine "Oskolki" once boasted to Chekhov of a beautiful story sent by an unknown  aspiring author. Chekhov wanted to read the manuscript. It turned out, however, that it was one of his own essays, diligently transcribed from a printed one and signed by an unknown surname. Yes, plagiarism is the best sign of success... 

* Advised aspiring writers: "You should never listen to anyone's advice. If you make a mistake, tell a lie, let the mistake belong to you alone. You must be brave in your work.

* Once he spent nearly an hour deciding in which trousers to wear to Tolstoy's house. Mixing, as was his custom, a joke with a serious one, he kept coming out of the bedroom in one pair of trousers or the other: "No, these are indecently tight! She'll think I'm a slicker!". Then he went to put on the other trousers, and again he came out laughing: "And these are as wide as the Black Sea! She'll think you're cheeky."

* He was a master of pranks, fond of joking, of giving apt nicknames. "But never from his jokes remained splinters in the heart, just as never in his life this amazingly gentle man did not consciously cause even the smallest suffering to anyone living," - recalled Alexander Kuprin.

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