Federal State Institution of Culture

Russian State
Art Library

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On 15 June in RSAL Ernest Orlov Gave the Open Lecture “Anton Chekhov in the Memoirs of Contemporaries”

Date: 05.07.2017

At the lecture of the Deputy Director of the Russian State Literary Museum for Scientific Study, head of the department of Anton Chekhov’s House-Museum, PhD (Candidate of Sciences) in Philological Sciences Ernest Orlov, described how Chekhov’s image was reconstructed on the basis of data that is often distorted in secondary sources—the memoirs of Chekhov’s contemporaries, and even in caricatures and photographs. The main question of the lecture was whether diverse points of view by various people serve to create a livelier view of Chekhov as a writer and person?

“In our family, only dad and Masha speak the truth, and the rest all lie”—this phrase of Chekhov’s is cited in the memoirs by the writer’s sister Maria “Masha” Pavlovna. It is the words “everyone lies” that marked the direction of the unusual and interesting lecture.

In his speech, Ernest Orlov referred to the handwritten memoirs of various people who knew Chekhov over the years: Vladimir Gilyarovsky; artists Alexandra Khotyaintseva and Maria Drozdova; poet and translator Tatyana Schepkina-Kupernik; as well as the author’s sister, Maria Chekhova; his wife, Olga Knipper-Chekhova; and others.

The lecture was accompanied by a visual presentation of rare documents and photographs—the most interesting exhibits from the successful exhibition from the collections of the Russian State Literary Museum with the original title “Everyone Lies: Anton Chekhov in the Memoirs of Contemporaries.” Those present at the lectures had the rare opportunity to see a unique photo of the author laughing on horseback. There were also the photocollages Chekhov and Tolstoy, the work of artist Alexandra Khotyaintseva, who captured the famous writer in caricatures. She created a complete series of works: Chekhov in Nice, Melikhov in Moscow.

Near the end of the meeting, a short comedic feature film was shown, My Lover—Anton Chekhov based on the humorous story of the same name by Chekhov’s contemporary, author Ivan Leontief (Scheglov). It was presented by the director Alexander Vlasov and the cameraman/sound engineer Kirill Bukanov.

The lecture generated considerable interest among listeners and imperceptibly evolved into a discussion about the creation of the mythological image of the writer.

At the end of the meeting, Ernest Orlov answered numerous questions.