Chekhov: A Life in Letters.

I’ve loved Chekhov for ages. Reading Rosamund Bartlett’s summary of his 44 years deepens the admiration:

In between working as a doctor, supporting his impecunious family, travelling the length and breadth of Russia, contributing to famine relief and the national census, building three schools, sending regular parcels of books to the library of his home town and planting trees, Chekhov managed to write a detailed and frank account of the lives of convicts on the island of Sakhalin (the most notorious penal colony in Siberia), nearly six hundred short stories and more than a dozen plays. He was also one of the world’s greatest letter writers. (xxxvi-xxxvii)

Seriously. 4500 of his letters survive. Also he knew Tchaikovsky, and talked on the phone with Tolstoy. And Rachmaninoff carried his six-volume collection of letters with him on his tour of America. But the best fact is probably

Chekhov also enjoyed becoming the owner of two dachshund puppies … The dogs, Bromide and Quinine, initially created havoc in the flowerbeds, but quickly became adored members of the household. (xxvi)

Swoon.

23 April 2012 ~ Hamilton

Works Cited

Anton Chekhov: A Life in Letters. Ed. Rosamund Bartlett. Trans. Rosamund Bartlet and Anthony Phillips. London: Penguin, 2004.

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