Простой карандаш – непростой карандаш!
On Chekhov’s desk of his Melikhovo library one can see some sheets of the writer’s manuscript, his fountain pen and an old inkwell. Next to it there is ~ a blunt lead pencil, but a Museum visitor hardly sets his eyes at this low-profile worker. It is the pen of course, that draws one’s attention first, since Chekhov used it to write the lines of his works and letters whereas his pencil is deemed as a sort of a subsidiary tool.
On the contrary, pencils played a very important role in the work of the writer as well! Of course, fair copies of his manuscripts and most of his letters are written with ink, but there are pages in Chekhov’s correspondence and in his works that are written in pencil.
Chekhov’s notebooks ~ are valuable documents of the writer. Most of them were written in pencil. It is only in the early 1900's, when pencil records started to rub off, the writer began to use ink. The significance of these materials thus showing to us a creative laboratory of the writer is even more important since Chekhov, as a rule, destroyed draft copies of his manuscripts and did not have much will to talk about his work. Chekhov’s remarks in his notebooks and on separate sheets allow you to follow the storyline and details of his novels and plays of the early1890's and 1900-ies. They help us to imagine the process of thinking over and formation of the writer’s creative designs, and methods of wording, working out a storyline and composition.
We can compare Chekhov’s notebooks in his creative work as a writer, with a source of a great river: notes in the book - notes on separate sheets - draft manuscript - final draft - makeup and printed text.
In Chekhov’s notebooks one can come across interesting symbols (red triangle, deep red rectangle, etc.) and marks made with colored pencils: the writer used one and the same symbols to designate fragments of one and the same work.
Chekhov was always keeping a pencil in all his trips. Stanislavsky recalled usual furnishings of an imaginary study of the writer outside his home: "The easiest table in the middle of the room, the same ink, pen, pencil, cozy sofa, a few chairs, a suitcase with books and notes".
During his trip to Sakhalin Chekhov was keeping short travel notes in pencil. Later they were published as essays "From Siberia". Even in Melikhovo, where Chekhov had his own library and a comfortable writing desk, he sometimes got into camping conditions due to crowds of guests, whom he earnestly had invited before. "I write with a pencil, because my desk is occupied by a lady, who is playing patience," – complained the writer to his neighbor V. N. Semenkovich who lived in the estate of Vaskino.
Chekhov also used a pencil for editing works that were mailed to him: many young writers asked him for help them as a mentor and editor. Chekhov was happy to help Maxim Gorky when he conceived to write a play: "You should write, write and write, you should write straight, in a simple manner — and will you be praised strongly for this! As was promised, send to me your drama; I'll read it and write my opinion quite frankly, and will use a pencil to underline the words that sound uncomfortable to me for the stage."
Usually Anton Pavlovich often used blue, green, red pencils for marking. There were many pencils on his desk, but soon all of them were slowly stolen by Chekhov’s guests as a keepsake. Pencils faithfully served the writer, they appeared on pages of his short stories and plays, were given to other people as gifts.
A pencil on Chekhov's writing table; if you look at it closely, you will find that it is not quite ordinary: instead of brand «A. W. FABER" which was very common in Chekhov's time, it has the mark "JOHANN FABER". Pencils under this name were manufactured by one of the Faber brothers, Johann by name who decided to leave the family business and start that of his own. However, his brother Lothar said that any of pencils with the famous name of Faber, but without initials "A. W." would be their imitation. It was the court which has put an end to the dispute of these two brothers, thus having recognized the right of Johann to have his own brand. Here in Melikhovo Museum we have pencils of these two firms with one and the same family name, which, obviously, the writer favored the most.