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hesitates and keeps silent. He keeps silence and ends by borrowing
money from Z., the lover, and continues to consider himself an honest
man.

* * * * *

When I stop drinking tea and eating bread and butter, I say: "I have
had enough." But when I stop reading poems or novels, I say: "No more
of that, no more of that."

* * * * *

A solicitor lends money at a high rate of interest, and justifies
himself because he is leaving everything to the University of Moscow.

* * * * *

A little sexton, with radical views: "Nowadays our fellows crawl out
from all sorts of unexpected holes."

* * * * *

The squire N. always quarrels with his neighbors who are Molokans[1];
he goes to court, abuses and curses them; but when at last they leave,
he feels there is an empty place; he ages rapidly and pines away.

[Footnote 1: Molokans are a religious sect in Russia.]

* * * * *

Mordukhanov.

* * * * *

With N. and his wife there lives the wife's brother, a lachrymose
young man who at one time steals, at another tells lies, at another
attempts suicide; N. and his wife do not know what to do, they are
afraid to turn him out because he might kill himself; they would like
to turn him out, but they do not know how to manage it. For forging
a bill he gets into prison, and N. and his wife feel that they are to
blame; they cry, grieve. She died from grief; he too died some time
later and everything was left to the brother who squandered it and got
into prison again.

* * * * *

Suppose I had to marry a woman and live in her house, I would run away
in two days, but a woman gets used so quickly to her husband's house,
as though she had been born there.

* * * * *

Well, you are a Councillor; but whom do you counsel? God forbid that
any one should listen to your counsels.

* * * * *

The little town of Torjok. A sitting of the town council. Subject: the
raising of the rates. Decision: to invite the Pope to settle down in
Torjok - to choose it as his residence.

* * * * *

S.'s logic: I am for religious toleration, but against religious
freedom; one cannot allow what is not in the strict sense orthodox.

* * * * *

St. Piony and Epinach. ii March, Pupli 13 m.

* * * * *

Poetry and works of art contain not what is needed but what people
desire; they do not go further than the crowd and they express only
what the best in the crowd desire.

* * * * *

A little man is very cautious; he sends even letters of congratulation
by registered post in order to get a receipt.

* * * * *

Russia is an enormous plain across which wander mischievous men.

* * * * *

Platonida Ivanovna.

* * * * *

If you are politically sound, that is enough for you to be considered
a perfectly satisfactory citizen; the same thing with radicals, to be
politically unsound is enough, everything else will be ignored.

* * * * *

A man who when he fails opens his eyes wide.

* * * * *

Ziuzikov.

* * * * *

A Councillor of State, a respectable man; it suddenly comes out that
he has secretly kept a brothel.

* * * * *

N. has written a good play; no one praises him or is pleased; they all
say: "We'll see what you write next."

* * * * *

The more important people came in by the front door, the simple folk
by the back door.

* * * * *

He: "And in our town there lived a man whose name was Kishmish
(raisin). He called himself Kishmish, but every one knew that he was
Kishmish."

She (after some thought): "How annoying ... if only his name had been
Sultana, but Kishmish!..."

* * * * *

Blagovospitanny.

* * * * *

Most honored Iv-Iv-itch!

* * * * *

How intolerable people are sometimes who are happy and successful in
everything.

* * * * *

They begin gossiping that N. is living with Z.; little by little
an atmosphere is created in which a liaison of N. and Z. becomes
inevitable.

* * * * *

When the locust was a plague, I wrote against the locust and enchanted
every one, I was rich and famous; but now, when the locust has long
ago disappeared and is forgotten, I am merged in the crowd, forgotten,
and not wanted.

* * * * *

Merrily, joyfully: "I have the honor to introduce you to Iv. Iv.
Izgoyev, my wife's lover."

* * * * *

Everywhere on the estate are notices: "Trespassers will be
prosecuted," "Keep off the flowers," etc.

* * * * *

In the great house is a fine library which is talked about but is
never used; they give you watery coffee which you cannot drink; the
garden is tasteless with no flowers in it - and they pretend that all
this is something Tolstoian.

* * * * *

He learnt Swedish in order to study Ibsen, spent a lot of time and
trouble, and suddenly realized that Ibsen is not important; he could
not conceive what use he could now make of the Swedish language.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ibsen wrote in Norwegian of course. Responding to
a request for his interpretation of this curious paragraph. Mr.
Koteliansky writes:

"Chekhov had a very high opinion of Ibsen; the paragraph, I am sure,
is by no means aimed at Ibsen. Most probably the paragraph, as well as
many others in the Notes, is something which C. either personally or
indirectly heard someone say. You will see that Kuprin ["Reminiscences
of Chekhov," by Gorky, Kuprin and Bunin, New York: Huebsch.] told C.
the anecdote about the actor whose wife asked him to whistle a melody
on the stage during a rehearsal. In C.'s Notes you have that anecdote,
somewhat shortened and the names changed, without mentioning the
source."

"The reader, on the whole, may puzzle his head over many paragraphs
in the Notes, but he will hardly find explanations each time. What the
reader has to remember is that the Notes are material used by C. in
his creative activity and as such it throws a great deal of light on
C.'s mentality and process of working."]

* * * * *

N. makes a living by exterminating bugs; and for the purposes of his
trade he reads the works of - - . If in "The Cossacks," bugs are not
mentioned, it means that "The Cossacks" is a bad book.

* * * * *

Man is what he believes.

* * * * *

A clever girl: "I cannot pretend ... I never tell a lie ... I have
principles" - and all the time "I ... I ... I ..."

* * * * *

N. is angry with his wife who is an actress, and without her knowledge
gets abusive criticisms published about her in the newspapers.

* * * * *

A nobleman boasts "This house of mine was built in the time of Dmitry
Donskoy."

* * * * *

"Your Worship, he called my dog a bad name: 'son of a bitch.'"

* * * * *

The snow fell and did not lie on the ground reddened with blood.

* * * * *

He left everything to charity, so that nothing should go to his
relations and children, whom he hated.

* * * * *

A very amorous man; he is no sooner introduced to a girl than he
becomes a he-goat.

* * * * *

A nobleman Drekoliev.

* * * * *

I dread the idea that a chamberlain will be present at the opening of
my petition.

* * * * *

He was a rationalist, but he had to confess that he liked the ringing
of church bells.

* * * * *

The father a famous general, nice pictures, expensive furniture; he
died; the daughters received a good education, but are slovenly, read
little, ride, and are dull.

* * * * *

They are honest and truthful so long as it is unnecessary.

* * * * *

A rich merchant would like to have a shower bath in his W.C.

* * * * *

In the early morning they ate _okroshka_.[1]

[Footnote 1: A cold dish composed of cider and hash.]

* * * * *

"If you lose this talisman," said grandmother, "you will die." And
suddenly I lost it, tortured myself, was afraid that I would die. And
now, imagine, a miracle happened: I found it and continued to live.

* * * * *

Everybody goes to the theatre to see my play, to learn something
instantly from it, to make some sort of profit, and I tell you: I have
not the time to bother about that canaille.

* * * * *

The people hate and despise everything new and useful; when there was
cholera, they hated and killed the doctors and they love vodka; by the
people's love or hatred one can estimate the value of what they love
or hate.

* * * * *

Looking out of the window at the corpse which is being borne to the
cemetery: "You are dead, you are being carried to the cemetery, and I
will go and have my breakfast."

* * * * *

A Tchech Vtitchka.

* * * * *

A man, forty years old, married a girl of twenty-two who read only the
very latest writers, wore green ribbons, slept on yellow pillows, and
believed in her taste and her opinions as if they were law; she is
nice, not silly, and gentle, but he separates from her.

* * * * *

When one longs for a drink, it seems as though one could drink a whole
ocean - that is faith; but when one begins to drink, one can only drink
altogether two glasses - that is science.

* * * * *

For a farce: Fildekosov, Poprygunov.

* * * * *

In former times a nice man, with principles, who wanted to be
respected, would try to become a general or priest, but now he goes in
for being a writer, professor....

* * * * *

There is nothing which history will not justify.

* * * * *

Zievoulia.[1]

[Footnote 1: A name or word invented by Chekhov meaning "One who yawns
for a long time with pleasure."]

* * * * *

The crying of a nice child is ugly; so in bad verses you may recognize
that the author is a nice man.

* * * * *

If you wish women to love you, be original; I know a man who used to
wear felt boots summer and winter, and women fell in love with him.

* * * * *

I arrive at Yalta. Every room is engaged. I go to the "Italy" - not
a room available. "What about my room number 35" - "It is engaged." A
lady. They say: "Would you like to stay with this lady? The lady has
no objection." I stay in her room. Conversation. Evening. The Tartar
guide comes in. My ears are stopped, my eyes blindfolded; I sit and
see nothing and hear nothing....

* * * * *

A young lady complains: "My poor brother gets such a small
salary - only seven thousand!"

* * * * *

She: "I see only one thing now: you have a large mouth! A large mouth!
An enormous mouth!"

* * * * *

The horse is a useless and pernicious animal; a great deal of land has
to be tilled for it, it accustoms man not to employ his own muscles,
it is often an object of luxury; it makes man effeminate. For the
future not a single horse.

* * * * *

N. a singer; speaks to nobody, his throat muffled up - he takes care of
his voice, but no one has ever heard him sing.

* * * * *

About absolutely everything: "What's the good of that? It's useless!"

* * * * *

He wears felt boots summer and winter and gives this explanation:
"It's better for the head, because the blood, owing to the heat, is
drawn down into the feet, and the thoughts are clearer."

* * * * *

A woman is jocularly called Fiodor Ivanovitch.

* * * * *

A farce: N., in order to marry, greased the bald patch on his head
with an ointment which he read of in an advertisement, and suddenly
there began to grow on his head pig's bristles.

* * * * *

What does your husband do? - He takes castor oil.

* * * * *

A girl writes: "We shall live intolerably near you."

* * * * *

N. has been for long in love with Z. who married X.; two years after
the marriage Z. comes to N., cries, wishes to tell him something; N.
expects to hear her complain against her husband; but it turns out
that Z. has come to tell of her love for K.

* * * * *

N. a well known lawyer in Moscow; Z., who like N. was born in
Taganrog, comes to Moscow and goes to see the celebrity; he is
received warmly, but he remembers the school to which they both went,
remembers how N. looked in his uniform, becomes agitated by envy, sees
that N.'s flat is in bad taste, that N. himself talks a great deal;
and he leaves disenchanted by envy and by the meanness which before he
did not even suspect was in him.

* * * * *

The title of a play: The Bat.

* * * * *

Everything which the old cannot enjoy is forbidden or considered
wrong.

* * * * *

When he was getting on in years, he married a very young girl, and so
she faded and withered away with him.

* * * * *

All his life he wrote about capitalism and millions, and he had never
had any money.

* * * * *

A young lady fell in love with a handsome constable.

* * * * *

N. was a very good, fashionable tailor; but he was spoiled and ruined
by trifles; at one time he made an overcoat without pockets, at
another a collar which was much too high.

* * * * *

A farce: Agent of freight transport company and of fire insurance
company.

* * * * *

Any one can write a play which might be produced.

* * * * *

A country house. Winter. N., ill, sits in his room. In the evening
there suddenly arrives from the railway station a stranger Z., a young
girl, who introduces herself and says that she has come to look after
the invalid. He is perplexed, frightened, he refuses; then Z. says
that at any rate she will stay the night. A day passes, two, and she
goes on living there. She has an unbearable temper, she poisons one's
existence.

* * * * *

A private room in a restaurant. A rich man Z., tying his napkin round
his neck, touching the sturgeon with his fork: "At least I'll have
a snack before I die" - and he has been saying this for a long time,
daily.

* * * * *

By his remarks on Strindberg and literature generally L.L. Tolstoi
reminds one very much of Madam Loukhmav.[1]

[Footnote 1: L.L. Tolstoi was Leo Nicolaievitch'a son, Madame Loukhmav
a tenth rate woman-writer.]

* * * * *

Diedlov, when he speaks of the Deputy Governor or the Governor,
becomes a romanticist, remembering "The Arrival of the Deputy
Governor" in the book _A Hundred Russian Writers_.

* * * * *

A play: the Bean of Life.

* * * * *

A vet. belongs to the stallion class of people.

* * * * *

Consultation.

* * * * *

The sun shines and in my soul is darkness.

* * * * *

In S. I made the acquaintance of the barrister Z. - a sort of Nika, The
Fair ... He has several children; with all of them he is magisterial,
gentle, kind, not a single rude word; I soon learn that he has another
family. Then he invites me to his daughter's wedding; he prays, makes
a genuflection, and says: "I still preserve religious feeling; I am
a believer." And when in his presence people speak of education, of
women, he has a naïve expression, exactly as if he did not understand.
When he makes a speech in Court, his face looks as if he were praying.

* * * * *

"Mammy, don't show yourself to the guests, you are very fat."

* * * * *

Love? In love? Never! I am a Government clerk.

* * * * *

He knows little, even as a babe who has not yet come out of his
mother's womb.

* * * * *

From childhood until extreme old age N. has had a passion for spying.

* * * * *

He uses clever words, that's all - philosophy ... equator ... (for a
play).

* * * * *

The stars have gone out long ago, but they still shine for the crowd.

* * * * *

As soon as he became a scholar, he began to expect honors.

* * * * *

He was a prompter, but got disgusted and gave it up; for about
fifteen years he did not go to the theatre; then he went and saw a
play, cried with emotion, felt sad, and, when his wife asked him on
his return how he liked the theatre, he answered: "I do not like it."

* * * * *

The parlormaid Nadya fell in love with an exterminator of bugs and
black beetles.

* * * * *

A Councillor of State; it came out after his death that, in order to
earn a rouble, he was employed at the theatre to bark like a dog; he
was poor.

* * * * *

You must have decent, well-dressed children, and your children too
must have a nice house and children, and their children again children
and nice houses; and what is it all for? - The devil knows.

* * * * *

Perkaturin.

* * * * *

Every day he forces himself to vomit - for the sake of his health, on
the advice of a friend.

* * * * *

A Government official began to live an original life; a very tall
chimney on his house, green trousers, blue waistcoat, a dyed dog,
dinner at midnight; after a week he gave it up.

* * * * *

Success has already given that man a lick with its tongue.

* * * * *

In the bill presented by the hotel-keeper: was among other things:
"Bugs - fifteen kopecks." Explanation.

* * * * *

"N. has fallen into poverty." - "What? I can't hear." - "I say N. has
fallen into poverty." - "What exactly do you say? I can't make out.
What N.?" - "The N. who married Z." - "Well, what of it?" - "I say we
ought to help him." - "Eh? What him? Why help? What do you mean?" - and
so on.

* * * * *

How pleasant to sit at home, when the rain is drumming on the roof,
and to feel that there are no heavy dull guests coming to one's house.

* * * * *

N. always even after five glasses of wine, takes valerian drops.

* * * * *

He lives with a parlormaid who respectfully calls him Your Honor.

* * * * *

I rented a country house for the summer; the owner, a very fat old
lady, lived in the lodge, I in the great house; her husband was dead
and so were all her children, she was left alone, very fat, the estate
sold for debt, her furniture old and in good taste; all day long she
reads letters which her husband and son had written to her. Yet she is
an optimist. When some one fell ill in my house, she smiled and said
again and again: "My dear, God will help."

* * * * *

N. and Z. are school friends, each seventeen or eighteen years old;
and suddenly N. learns that Z. is with child by N.'s father.

* * * * *

The priezt came ... zaint ... praize to thee, O Lord.

* * * * *

What empty words these discussions about the rights of women! If a dog
writes a work of talent, they will even accept the dog.

* * * * *

Hæmorrhage: "It's an abscess that's just burst inside you ... it's all
right, have some more vodka."

* * * * *

The intelligentsia are good for nothing, because they drink a lot of
tea, talk a lot in stuffy rooms, with empty bottles.

* * * * *

When she was young, she ran away with a doctor, a Jew, and had
a daughter by him; now she hates her past, hates the red-haired
daughter, and the father still loves her as well as the daughter, and
walks under her window, chubby and handsome.

* * * * *

He picked his teeth and put the toothpick back into the glass.

* * * * *

The husband and wife could not sleep; they began to discuss how bad
literature had become and how nice it would be to publish a magazine:
the idea carried them away; they lay awake silent for awhile. "Shall
we ask Boborykin to write?" he asked. "Certainly, do ask him." At five
in the morning he starts for his work at the depot; she sees him off
walking in the snow to the gate, shuts the gate after him.... "And
shall we ask Potapenko?" he asks, already outside the gate.

* * * * *

When he learnt that his father had been raised to the nobility he
began to sign himself Alexis.

* * * * *

Teacher: "'The collision of a train with human victims' ... that is
wrong ... it ought to be 'the collision of a train that resulted in
human victims' ... for the cause of the people on the line."

* * * * *

Title of play: Golden Rain.

* * * * *

There is not a single criterion which can serve as the measure of the
non-existent, of the non-human.

* * * * *

A patriot: "And do you know that our Russian macaroni is better
than the Italian? I'll prove it to you. Once at Nice they brought me
sturgeon - do you know, I nearly cried." And the patriot did not see
that he was only gastronomically patriotic.

* * * * *

A grumbler: "But is turkey food? Is caviare food?"

* * * * *

A very sensible, clever young woman; when she was bathing, he noticed
that she had a narrow pelvis and pitifully thin hips - and he got to
hate her.

* * * * *

A clock. Yegor the locksmith's clock at one time loses and at another
gains exactly as if to spite him; deliberately it is now at twelve and
then quite suddenly at eight. It does it out of animosity as though
the devil were in it. The locksmith tries to find out the cause, and
once he plunges it in holy water.

* * * * *

Formerly the heroes in novels and stories (e.g. Petchorin, Onyeguin)
were twenty years old, but now one cannot have a hero under thirty to
thirty-five years. The same will soon happen with heroines.

* * * * *

N. is the son of a famous father; he is very nice, but, whatever he
does, every one says: "That is very well, but it is nothing to the
father." Once he gave a recitation at an evening party; all the
performers had a success, but of him they said: "That is very well,


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Online LibraryAnton Pavlovich ChekhovNote-Book of Anton Chekhov → online text (page 5 of 7)