Letter to Maxim Gorky, July 29, 1902¹
by: Anton Chekhov

I have read your play [The Lower Depths]. It is new and unmistakably fine. The second act is very good; it is the best, the strongest, and when I was reading it, especially the end, I almost danced with joy. The tone is gloomy, oppressive; the audience, unaccustomed to such subjects, will walk out of the theatre, and you may well say good-by to your reputation as an optimist, in any case. My wife will play Vassilisa, the immoral and spiteful woman; Vishnevsky walks about the house and imagines himself the Tartar--he is convinced that is the part for him. Luka, alas! you must not give to Artyom. He will repeat himself in that part and be exhausted; but he would do the policeman wonderfully; it is his part. The part of the actor, in which you have been very successful (it is a magnificent part), should be given to an experienced actor, Stanislavsky perhaps. Kachalov will play the baron.

You left out of the fourth act all the most interesting characters (except the actor), and you must mind, now, that there is no ill effect from it. The act may seem boring and unnecessary, especially if, with the exit of the strongest and most interesting actors, there are left only the mediocrities. The death of the actor is awful; it is as though you gave the spectator a sudden box on the ear apropos of nothing without preparing him in any way. How the baron got into the doss house and why he is a baron is also not quite clear.

Back to Anton Chekhov

¹ Anton Chekhov, Letters on the Short Story, the Drama and other Literary Topics, selected and edited by Louis S. Friedland (New York: Minton, Balch & Co., 1924), pp. 170-80.

Chekhov's Plays  |  Other Works  |  Biographies/Studies


Chekhov's Plays

Other Works


Related Sites

Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov Index

Anton Chekhov Quotes

Chekhov Monologues

Russian Theatre Index

Related Playwrights

Maxim Gorky

Moonstruck Drama Bookstore  |  Theatre News  |  Theatre Links  |  Email Us