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С Днем рождения, Антон Павлович!
Published: 23 January 2018
Eloquent toasts and wishes, rhapsodic speeches, lofty language of congratulations are always well timed during birthday and name day celebrations... But why during the birthday of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov we would like to do without a lot of fuss and formalities, and to see a life pencil sketch instead of a grand portrait of the writer? Perhaps, this is because Chekhov himself was far from such a fuss of celebrity and high words? Therefore, today let the following lines of Chekhov's letters and recollections of his contemporaries will be a shiny finish of the living portrait of the writer.
* He had a very special smile – that was remembered by many people. It quickly appeared on his face and quickly disappeared from it as well. "His broad smile, of all of his face, sincere, but always rather brief. As if a man suddenly realized that, perhaps, there was no reason to smile longer than that".
* His favorite pastime was fishing: "What a wonderful thing to do! Kind of a quiet insanity. It's self-amusing for me and very safe for others. ".
* In the mushroom season, this Chekhov’s leisure pursuit interfered with his work. The writer apologized to the publishers that all his thoughts were focused on "a quiet mushroom hunting", therefore he was unable to write.
* He was a gourmet and he loved to eat at the best taverns and restaurants but he also liked homemade delicacies: "…the cured pork fat is amazing, and the taste and smell of the sausage can be compared only with the dream of a 17-year-young Spanish girl. I was about to be stuffed ".
* "I've never seen his library was untidy or his dressing scattered in the bedroom, and he himself was always simply, but neatly dressed; neither in the morning nor late in the evening, I never found him dressed for home, without a collar or neck tie."
* When inviting guests, once he promised to give them five bundles of radishes from his vegetable garden, then he offered lots of beer, and even he threatened some of them: "If you do not come, then I wish the tie-strings of your underpants got loose in the street in front of everybody".
* He was a person with a sweet tooth. He was especially fond of marmalade and chocolate, he loved the homemade jam as well.
* He loved to play solitaire. He used to play game of lotto and croquet.
* Anton Chekhov dearly loved his mother, but sometimes this did not prevent him to make fun of her religious commitment. Once, suddenly he asks her: "Well, Mom, and do monks wear underpants?", then he writes down in the diary of his father: "Mom dreamt of a goose wearing a kamelaukion (Orthodox priest’s headgear). It's a good sign".
* Among religious holidays, Easter was his the most favorite one; especially he loved solemn ringing of a large number of Moscow bells, those of the first capital city.
Having moved to Yalta, sadness came over his spirit: "It's boring without Muscovites, and without Moscow newspapers, and without the Moscow bell ringing, which I love so much."
* He loved the circus, opera "Carmen", music of Glinka and Tchaikovsky.
* He made much of good perfume; his library always smelled very nice. When describing his health problems in a letter to one of his women friends, Chekhov wrote: "You see what a cripple I am. But I am carefully hiding this from other people, and thus trying to appear as a cheerful young man of 28, that I manage to do this very often, as I buy expensive neck-ties and wear perfume Vera-Violetta".
* Chekhov had a skill of persuasion. Have hardly got acquainted with an unfledged writer, he was so active to advise him to go "somewhere very far, one or two or even three thousand miles away" that the young writer followed his advice, and a few days later he was already beyond the Ural mountains. Hence, his trip resulted in a series of Siberian stories, which opened to him pages of the best Russian magazines.
* Chekhov was angry very rarely, if ever. One of Russia's most renowned actors Vasily Ivanovich Kachalov recalled: "I saw him angry only once, when he even got blushed. It happened when we were giving a play in the Hermitage theater. At the end of the performance there was a crowd of students gathered at the exit, and they were about to give him a storm of applause. This made him terribly angry."
* He loved animals, as our lesser brethren, and did not make any exception. It was very surprising when once he was fighting a serious war against the mice, he used to take a mouse gently by its tail from the trap and set it free over the fence....
* He didn't like cut flowers at all; everytime after the guests, he put away bunches of flowers they had brought to him to another room. But when his female fans asked Chekhov for a bouquet from his garden, he could not refuse. However, he did it with a trick: he cut off the "ripe" flowers only, the blooming ones, which had to have been already cut. Sometimes, petals of these "Chekhov's" roses began falling off the buds to much regret of the local female community summer residents.
* Chekhov did not keep in mind his early humorous stories. Someday one of his brothers was sorting out a quite number of old magazines and read aloud stories that were published in them. Chekhov was laughing: "Oh, is this my story? I don't remember it at all! It sounds funny..."
* Once he recognized his story. One day the editor of the magazine "Oskolki” (Fragments) boasted to Chekhov of a nice story, that he had received from an unknown budding writer. Chekhov asked him to read him the manuscript. It turned out that it was one of his essays, carefully rewritten from a printed copy that had been published before. But it was signed by another name which was unknown to them. In fact, plagiarism is the best way to success...
* Chekhov used to give the following advice to aspiring young writers: "You should never listen to anyone's advice. Once you made a mistake or you lied – so let this fault of yours belong to you only. You have to be a man enough in your writing."
* One day, he spent not less than an hour deciding which pants to go along to visit Leo Tolstoy. Half-joking, as usual, Chekhov was busy changing pants in his bedroom one pair by another: "No, this pair is unseemly tight! He may think of me that I am a sort of a scribbler!". Then he went to wear another pair of trousers, and again he came out, laughing: "Well, and this one is as wide as the Black sea! He may think of me: What a cheeky fellow I am".
* Chekhov was a practical joker; he loved making jokes and giving striking nicknames. "No one ever suffered a heart pain from his jokes, same as this surprisingly gentle man has never willfully caused even the smallest heartache to a living thing," recalled Alexander Kuprin, a prominent Russian writer.