Letter to A.S. Souvorin, May 30, 1888¹
by: Anton Chekhov

As to your play [Tatyana Repina], I try in vain to see why you speak so ill of it. Its defects do not spring from your not being sufficiently talented, or from your not having great enough powers of observation, but from the nature of your creative ability. You are more inclined to austere creation, which was developed in you by extensive reading of the classic models, and by your love of these models. Imagine your Tatyana written in verse, and you will see that its defects will take on a different aspect. If it were written in verse, nobody would notice that all its characters speak one and the same language, nobody would reproach your characters for uttering nothing but philosophy, and for "feuilletonizing" in the classic form--all this would blend with the classic tone as smoke blends with the air--and one would not observe in your Tatyana the absence of the commonplace language and the everyday, petty actions that the modern drama must provide in plenty . . . . Give your characters Latin names, attire them in togas, and you will get the same thing--the defects of your play are irremediable because they are organic. Console yourself with the fact that they are the product of your actual qualities, and that if you gave these qualities to other playwrights, their plays would become much more interesting and clever.

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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.

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