Let me introduce myself. My full name is Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, a Russian medical doctor, and playwright. Born in the year 1860 to a disciplinarian father and a nurturing mother, I grew up in the southern part of Taganrog, Russia with one sister and four brothers. I remember my father Pavel being a physically abusive person as my earliest memory of him was beating my siblings and me as the disciplinary measure. At the same time, my mother Yevgeniya refused to intervene with the father in this matter. Although I grew up in poverty, my father managed to send me to the best schools due to his small business. Therefore, I had ample exposure to art.
Concerning the physical attributions of my character, I have a strong chest and a large, gentle face frequently accompanied by a shy smile. My height is above average with a slim physique. Finally, my hair is similar to the color of a chestnut, and I have a special affinity for mustache and beards. The color of my eyes is a mystery, as some people claim that they are blue and some describe them to be brown with blue flecks. Hence, people can find numerous descriptions of my expressive eyes, despite my sight problems and the glasses, which were my constant companion.
Comrades and critics have observed my friendly nature, although somewhat reserved. In other words, I am constantly thinking of other things, which gives me the quality of mystery and inwardness. Rest assured I smile when necessary. Friends describe my laughter as infectious, noiseless, and somewhat feminine in nature. My weakening health can explain this lack of bursting energy. In my early years in medical school, I was afflicted with tuberculosis, which resulted in a weaker version of me year after year. During my prime of life, I managed to visit various lands, cities, and even countries. However, there came a period when I was forbidden to travel and conduct social visits anymore.
All throughout my childhood, I remember my family living in poverty. After all, I am the son of a mere peasant whom I respect as a father, but I never understand the physical beatings. My father was a bad businessperson, so in 1876, he was forced to hide in Moscow and leave our home to avoid going to prison due to his debts. Of course, my mother, my brothers, Ivan and Mikhail, and my sister Maria joined him shortly. My two other brothers, Nikolai and Alexander, were already studying at the university. Therefore, for that time I was the only person dwelling in our home, surrounded by the new owners, living as a tenant. I provided for myself with odd jobs and tutoring. After graduating from the Taganrog Gymnasium in 1879, I paid my family a visit in Moscow. My perspective about my hometown has considerably changed. Taganrog remains my birthplace with fond memories, but Moscow awakens my desire for a cultured intellectual experience. Soon, I began my medical studies at the University of Moscow. My writing career has started there with a few humor-filled sketches. When they achieved success, my earnings helped my family, slowly replacing my unemployed father in terms of social and financial aspects. Corporal punishment was no longer allowed which pleased me because I strongly object violence and killing. By then, my family remained living in a poverty-stricken neighborhood, in a deplorable apartment with boarders. The combination of scholarship money, rent from boarders, and earnings from my narratives have solidified my position as the head of the family, which persisted all throughout my existence. Due to the following situation, I consider myself inclined to take the position of the leadership.
Despite the early success of my writings, my ambition to be a doctor remained. It was my inherent desire to support my family that sustained my writing all the time I was at the University. Luckily, support started pouring in, as far as I moved to St. Petersburg. The most important figure in my career was Nikolai Leikin, an editor from Fragments magazine. He encouraged me to be a prolific writer, submitting humor-centered stories and being paid for them. Soon, I became a columnist, adding another source of income to the household. Sometimes, the constant demand for writing humorous stories got the best of me, so I took the time to recharge by taking short trips to a village outside Moscow called Voskresensk, where my brother was teaching. In June 1884, I graduated from the medical school, and soon afterward the first symptoms of tuberculosis alerted me, which I completely denied for the next ten years.
As soon as I began my medical practice, my reputation as a writer also improved. As a writer, I have adopted an objective and realistic method of writing. My sharp manner of objective storytelling without the involvement of any personal views made my satirical short stories successful. The characters in my stories are engaged in various settings that depict the everyday scenes in actual life, deprived of the usual dramatic flairs of human emotions such as love, despair, and fear. Through my literary works, my critics and audience are reminded of the actual scenes that happen in our everyday life. They have an immense substance, but we fail to grasp its importance due to its lack of romanticism. My portrayal of life and its beauty is present in everyday living through eating, sitting, observing, and sleeping, and not in the remarkable attributions of loving, caring, loathing, and dreaming. Usually, the dilemmas present in my stories are not provided with resolutions, which is another consequence of objectivity. I see reality as it is, not its potential of what it can become. During my time in Russia working both as a writer and medical doctor, I have gained popularity due to my literary works and medical assistance to the public, ranging from the proletariats to the aristocrats. Russia, at this period, is still in the height of autocracy, maintaining its caste system of social stratification. However, I do not support autocracy as my beliefs are strongly tied to egalitarianism. For me, all human beings are vulnerable to weaknesses, notwithstanding class or occupation, so we must experience social, political, and economic equality.
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During my long-lasting years of writing plays and short stories, I have made friends with important figures in Russia, including Leo Tolstoy and Maxim Gorky. We have supported one another through the years. There was one time that I have cut ties with the Academy of Sciences because they had refused to admit Gorky’s step on political grounds. I think it was my first important political action.
During a rehearsal of one of my plays, I have noticed a young actress named Olga Knipper. Years later, I have married the same woman who inspired me and aroused my ardor for writing so much that I even dedicated a story to her. The marriage has led to a power struggle between Olga versus my sister and mother. She is my wife, so it is proper that she holds major decisions in the household, especially when it involves me. My role as a mediator between the siblings and wife was sometimes exhausting; therefore, I decided to travel despite my worsening condition. Olga became pregnant with my child, but she suffered a miscarriage a month later. I know my health is slowly deteriorating, but my concerns are solely focused on my wife and her well-being.
After years and years of success and failures, I still do not consider myself a true artist, as Tolstoy often teases me that my literary works are worse than Shakespeare’s are. Yet, I am always agitated that my constant need to write gets in the way of my health. I would not be the same person without the major roles of people, mainly my wife Olga, my friends Tolstoy, Gorky, Suvorin, my mother, my siblings, and even my physically abusive father. Perhaps, seeing the beauty of everyone is my greatest accomplishment of all. After all these years of exile, all I could think about is Moscow and many possibilities in the future.