Chekov on Nihilism

Excerpt from a letter, 1892.

Letter to A. S. Souvorin, November 25, 1892

“Science and technical knowledge are now experiencing great days, but for our brotherhood the time are dull, stale and frivolous, we ourselves are stall and dreary… Our illness is a lack of something, that is the rights of the case, and it means that when you lift the hem of our Muse’s gown you will behold an empty void… Now what about us? Yes, us! We paint life such as it is—that’s all, there isn’t any more… Beat us up, if you like, but that’s as far as we’ll go. We have neither immediate nor distant aims, and you can rattle around in our souls. We have no politics, we don’t believe in God, we aren’t afraid of ghosts, and personally I don’t even fear death or blindness. He who doesn’t desire anything, doesn’t hope for anything and isn’t afraid of anything cannot be an artist… I am not to blame for my disease, and it is not for me to cure myself, as I have to assume this illness has good aims which are obscure to us and not inflicted without good reason.”