A Reader’s Guide to Planes, Trains, & Automobiles
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Alberto Moravia had his characters make love on a train in The Conformist. And indeed, when Italian railways still had compartments with curtained doors, I more than once surprised embarrassed lovers on the 9:05 Milano–Venezia.
April 10, 2019
Memories of Chekhov
*Memories of Chekhov*, from which this excerpt is drawn, is the first documentary biography of Anton Chekhov to be based on primary sources: the letters, diaries, essays, and memories of Chekhov’s family, friends, and contemporaries that I collected from Chekhov archives in Yalta and Moscow, as well as the New York Public Library, the Russian State Library, and the Library of Congress. All of this material appears in English translation for the first time. My favorite discovery was a rare editorial by Chekhov dedicated to the life of Nikolai Przhevalsky, a famous Russian geographer. At the very end of the nineteenth century Chekhov wrote, “Reading this biography, we do not ask: ‘Why did he do this?’ or ‘What did he accomplish?’ but we say, ‘He was right!’” These words also describe Chekhov’s own life.
July 5, 2011