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Reminiscences of Anton Chekhov   By:

Reminiscences of Anton Chekhov by Alexander I. Kuprin

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[ Transcriber's Notes:

Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as possible, including inconsistencies in spelling and hyphenation. Some corrections of spelling and punctuation have been made. They are listed at the end of the text.

Italic text has been marked with underscores . ]

REMINISCENCES OF ANTON CHEKHOV

BY MAXIM GORKY, ALEXANDER KUPRIN and I. A. BUNIN

TRANSLATED BY S. S. KOTELIANSKY and LEONARD WOOLF

NEW YORK B. W. HUEBSCH, Inc. MCMXXI

COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY B. W. HUEBSCH, Inc.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

CONTENTS

FRAGMENTS OF RECOLLECTIONS BY MAXIM GORKY, 1

TO CHEKHOV'S MEMORY BY ALEXANDER KUPRIN, 29

A. P. CHEKHOV BY I. A. BUNIN, 91

ANTON CHEKHOV

FRAGMENTS OF RECOLLECTIONS BY MAXIM GORKY

Once he invited me to the village Koutchouk Koy where he had a tiny strip of land and a white, two storied house. There, while showing me his "estate," he began to speak with animation: "If I had plenty of money, I should build a sanatorium here for invalid village teachers. You know, I would put up a large, bright building very bright, with large windows and lofty rooms. I would have a fine library, different musical instruments, bees, a vegetable garden, an orchard.... There would be lectures on agriculture, mythology.... Teachers ought to know everything, everything, my dear fellow."

He was suddenly silent, coughed, looked at me out of the corners of his eyes, and smiled that tender, charming smile of his which attracted one so irresistibly to him and made one listen so attentively to his words.

"Does it bore you to listen to my fantasies? I do love to talk of it.... If you knew how badly the Russian village needs a nice, sensible, educated teacher! We ought in Russia to give the teacher particularly good conditions, and it ought to be done as quickly as possible. We ought to realize that without a wide education of the people, Russia will collapse, like a house built of badly baked bricks. A teacher must be an artist, in love with his calling; but with us he is a journeyman, ill educated, who goes to the village to teach children as though he were going into exile. He is starved, crushed, terrorized by the fear of losing his daily bread. But he ought to be the first man in the village; the peasants ought to recognize him as a power, worthy of attention and respect; no one should dare to shout at him or humiliate him personally, as with us every one does the village constable, the rich shop keeper, the priest, the rural police commissioner, the school guardian, the councilor, and that official who has the title of school inspector, but who cares nothing for the improvement of education and only sees that the circulars of his chiefs are carried out.... It is ridiculous to pay in farthings the man who has to educate the people. It is intolerable that he should walk in rags, shiver with cold in damp and draughty schools, catch cold, and about the age of thirty get laryngitis, rheumatism, or tuberculosis. We ought to be ashamed of it. Our teacher, for eight or nine months in the year, lives like a hermit: he has no one to speak a word to; without company, books, or amusements, he is growing stupid, and, if he invites his colleagues to visit him, then he becomes politically suspect a stupid word with which crafty men frighten fools. All this is disgusting; it is the mockery of a man who is doing a great and tremendously important work.... Do you know, whenever I see a teacher, I feel ashamed for him, for his timidity, and because he is badly dressed ... it seems to me that for the teacher's wretchedness I am myself to blame I mean it."

He was silent, thinking; and then, waving his hand, he said gently: "This Russia of ours is such an absurd, clumsy country."

A shadow of sadness crossed his beautiful eyes; little rays of wrinkles surrounded them and made them look still more meditative. Then, looking round, he said jestingly: "You see, I have fired off at you a complete leading article from a radical paper... Continue reading book >>




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