Marginalia, no.170

63. Death of Chekhov: The touching description of Chekhov’s end – reported by two of his biographers, Natalia Ginzburg (Vita Attraverso le Lettere, Torino, 1989) and Troyat (Chekhov), neither of whom provides notes on its origin – should surely be attributed to Olga Knipper, the beloved cockroach, who was the only witness, aside from Dr. Schworer, of that death.

~ Aldo Buzzi, note to ‘Chekhov in Sondrio’

Chekhov’s final words were, ‘It’s been such a long time since I drank champagne.’ He drank it, laid himself down, and died. Every death, I suppose, is witnessed by multitudes if we consider the insects and microscopic creatures in attendance. But Olga Knipper was Chekhov’s wife. According to Buzzi, terms of endearment employed by Anton in letters to Olga include: my little cockroach, my little mosquito, my little turkey, my little bug, my dear little dog, my lovely dachshund.



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2 responses to “Marginalia, no.170

  1. I must say, I never tried “My dear little dog” with any of the girls I dated….

  2. Ian Wolcott

    Chekhov went further: ‘My little bitch’ was also included in the list. These are not courting letters, however, but letters written after they were married. I dare you.

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