Chekhov in My Life

Chekhov in My Life

Chekhov in My Life

Chekhov in My Life

Excerpt

So much has been written about Chekhov that little of any importance, it would seem, could have escaped his biographers or critics. And yet it is only recently that one of the most significant events of his life has come to light with the publication in Moscow of a volume of personal reminiscences of Chekhov by various hands. This volume contains an account by Lydia Avilov, the wife of a Petersburg official and herself a writer of short stories, describing the unhappy love affair between her and Chekhov which lasted for ten years and covered the most important period of Chekhov's authorship. This hitherto unknown chapter in Chekhov's life certainly seems to explain more than anything else the peculiar "heart-ache" motif that runs through most of his stories and plays, the sadness that, like the mournful sound of the breaking violin string in The Cherry Orchard, is so typical of his creative genius and so characteristic a feature of almost every love story in his writings.

Lydia Avilov was four years younger than Chekhov. She was born in Moscow in 1864, and she was only twenty-five when she first met Chekhov. In the account of her relations with Chekhov, published several years after her death in 1942 at the age of seventy-eight, under the title of Chekhov in My Life, she describes only eight meetings with Chekhov between 1889 and 1899, but it is clear from the text that they must have met much more often. Lydia Avilov's reminiscences contain a great deal of highly interesting literary . . .

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