Biography of Russian Writer Anton Chekhov Part 2

About the famous Russian author Anton Chekhov, history and biography of one of history's best short story writers.


ANTON CHEKHOV (1860-1904)

Chekhov's health had been frail since his mid-20s, when he had become tubercular. Symptoms of heart disease further limited his activities. "It would be awkward," he once told his friends, "to fall down and die in the presence of strangers." The love of his life, Moscow actress Olga Knipper, remained devoted to him despite his persistent refusal to marry her because of his impending death. She kept in touch, for two years constantly sending love letters from Moscow to the Black Sea resort of Yalta or the other spas to which Chekhov had been forced because of ill health. She finally wore down his resistance. At a strategic moment, Olga proposed, and they were married on May 25, 1901.

On the stage and in his short stories, Chekhov's characters are moody, misunderstood people who desperately long for a better life. His critics accused him of writing plays without plots, of ending them without climaxes, and of having what minimal action there was occur offstage. The charges are debatable.

The intense realism of Chekhov's characters, with accompanying groaning and moaning, or weeping and kissing, is considered by the Western world to be charmingly Russian. Chekhov felt that the emotional excesses--which sometimes embarrassed his Russian audiences--were vital to the creation of the mood he wanted to convey. Every insignificant detail, every last gasp, every bit of minor humor was intended to paint the whole canvas of life.

On his deathbed, when comforted by a doctor who tried to encourage him with overoptimistic words about recovery, Dr. Chekhov quietly analyzed his own chances for himself. "I am dying," he said firmly. A few minutes later, his diagnosis was confirmed.

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