to free art from lying and violence

– Isaac Ilyich Levitan’s portrait of his friend Anton Chekhov. Levitan greeted Chekhov with, Are you there, crocodile? Levitan 1860-1900

I went home and fell asleep trying to read The Brothers Karamazov. Oh dear, oh dear.

He sits downstage of his desk.

So long-winded and indelicate. Too pretentious. Writers like Dostoyevsky think we should be solving great questions, like God and pessimism. But we have specialists who deal with specialised sugjects like that. For the most part people have dinner, that’s all they do, they have dinner, and yet during this time their happiness is established or their lives are falling apart. I mean, why should I write about a man who climbs into a submarine and goes to the North Pole in order to achieve a reconciliation with the world, while at the same moment his beloved hurls herself with a shriek from the belfry? No. You should write about ordinary things. Pyotr Semionovich married Maria Ivanovna. That’s all.

– Chekhov speaking in Anton Chekhov by Michael Pennington, in his Are You There, Crocodile? p. 242

– an example, according to the site, of what you might expect to see on a Russian wedding

Sunny Day, Isaac Levitan, 1883-4

the sun only rises once a day, so take hold of what’s left of your life and save it. My holy of holies is the human body, health, intelligence, talent, love and the most absolute freedom imaginable, freedom from violence and lying, whatever form they may take. That’s the programme I would follow if I were a great artist.

– Chekhov, in ibid., p. 270

The Gully, Isaac Levitan, 1898