Chekhov Anton 1860 - 1904 (44)

Man is what he believes.


Short stories

“Why are we worn out? Why do we, who start out so passionate, brave, noble, believing, become totally bankrupt by the age of thirty or thirty-five? Why is it that one is extinguished by consumption, another puts a bullet in his head, a third seeks oblivion in vodka, cards, a fourth, in order to stifle fear and anguish, cynically tramples underfoot the portrait of his pure, beautiful youth? Why is it that, once fallen, we do not try to rise, and, having lost one thing, we do not seek another? Why?”

Anton Chekhov (January 29, 1860 - July 15, 1904) was a Russian writer, one of the major literary figures of his time.He was born in southern Russia, the third of six children in his family; he grew up in a very strict and religious environment. His grandfather was a serf who acquired his family’s freedom by giving his lifetime savings. His father worked as an accountant and kept a dairy but he was having financial difficulties and declared bankruptcy. He had to leave for Moscow to avoid persecution for his debts and soon his wife followed him with Anton’s brothers; Anton was left behind to finish high school. He stayed alone for 2 years and made his living by doing private lessons to other students and working as a laborer in a warehouse. In 1789 he went to Moscow and reunited with his family. He studied at the Medical School of Moscow and received his degree in 1884. From the years of high school he was writing short stories and in 1884 he published his first book of short stories. He began to work as a doctor and to write short stories and plays. As he said, medicine was his wife and writing his mistress, both served a purpose, the healing of man’s body and soul.

In 1886 he wrote his first play, and in 1888 he was awarded the Pushkin Award for his short stories, like “Ward No. 6” and “The Lady with the Dog”. In 1892 he settled with his parents and sister in Melikhovo, where he worked day and night to fight cholera that plagued central Russia. He served 26 villages and 7 factories in the area and didn’t ask for money from the poor; the villagers regarded him as a guardian angel. In 1891 and 1894 he traveled to Europe. His brother Nikolai died in 1897 and his father in 1898. The next year he built a villa on the outskirts of Yalta, into which he moved with his mother and sister.

He collaborated with the Moscow Art Theater on productions of his plays, including his masterpieces The Seagull (1895), Uncle Vanya (1897), The Three Sisters (1901) and The Cherry Orchard (1904). In 1901, he married Olga Knipper, an actress from the Moscow Art Theatre, but his health was in decline due to the tuberculosis that had affected him since his youth. While staying at a health resort in Badenweiler, Germany, in the early hours of July 15, 1904, he woke up his wife saying in German “I am dying” and he died.