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- Letters of Anton Chekhov - 64/64 -

One feels there is not a single drop of talent in anything nor a single drop of taste; but, on the other hand, there is order and honesty to spare. Our Russian life is far more talented, and as for the Italian or the French, it is beyond comparison.

My health has improved. I don't notice now as I go about that I am ill; my asthma is better, nothing is aching. The only trace left of my illness is extreme thinness; my legs are thin as they have never been. The German doctors have turned all my life upside down. At seven o'clock in the morning I drink tea in bed--for some reason it must be in bed; at half-past seven a German by way of a masseur comes and rubs me all over with water, and this seems not at all bad. Then I have to lie still a little, get up at eight o'clock, drink acorn cocoa and eat an immense quantity of butter. At ten o'clock, oatmeal porridge, extremely nice to taste and to smell, not like our Russian. Fresh air and sunshine. Reading the newspaper. At one o'clock, dinner, at which I must not taste everything but only the things Olga chooses for me, according to the German doctor's prescription. At four o'clock the cocoa again. At seven o'clock supper. At bedtime a cup of strawberry tea--that is as a sleeping draught. In all this there is a lot of quackery, but a lot of what is really good and useful--for instance, the porridge. I shall bring some oatmeal from here with me....

June 21.

Things are going all right with me, only I have begun to get sick of Badenweiler. There is so much German peace and order here. It was different in Italy. To-day at dinner they gave us boiled mutton--what a dish! The whole dinner is magnificent, but the maitres d'hotel look so important that it makes one uneasy.

June 28.

... It has begun to be terribly hot here. The heat caught me unawares, as I have only winter suits here. I am gasping and dreaming of getting away. But where to go? I should like to go to Italy, to Como, but everyone is running away from the heat there. It is hot everywhere in the south of Europe. I should like to go from Trieste to Odessa by steamer, but I don't know how far it is possible now, in June and July.... If it should be rather hot it doesn't matter; I should have a flannel suit. I confess I dread the railway journey. It is stifling in the train now, particularly with my asthma, which is made worse by the slightest thing. Besides, there are no sleeping carriages from Vienna right up to Odessa; it would be uncomfortable. And we should get home by railway sooner than we need, and I have not had enough holiday yet. It is so hot one can't bear one's clothes, I don't know what to do. Olga has gone to Freiburg to order a flannel suit for me, there are neither tailors nor shoemakers in Badenweiler. She has taken the suit Dushar made me as a pattern.

I like the food here very much, but it does not seem to suit me; my stomach is constantly being upset. I can't eat the butter here. Evidently my digestion is hopelessly ruined. It is scarcely possible to cure it by anything but fasting--that is, eating nothing--and that's the end of it. And the only remedy for the asthma is not moving.

There is not a single decently dressed German woman. The lack of taste makes one depressed.

Well, keep well and happy. My love to Mother, Vanya, George, and all the rest. Write!

I kiss you and press your hand.

Yours, A.


[Transcriber's Note: In the Biographical Sketch, "Chekhov was found of hearing Potapenko" was changed to "Chekhov was fond of hearing Potapenko".]

Letters of Anton Chekhov - 64/64

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