"Nothing passes away."
If I wanted to order a ring for myself, the inscription I should choose would be: “Nothing passes away.” I believe that nothing passes away without leaving a trace, and that every step we take, however small, has significance for our present and our future existence.
– Anton Chekhov, “My Life,” which is collected by Edmund Wilson in Peasants and Other Stories (the very first NYRB Classic published)
Today is Chekhov’s 155th birthday, and there’s no question that he’s left more than just a trace of influence behind. This June, NYRB Classics will release The Prank, an original collection of Chekhov’s early short stories, first assembled by the author himself but promptly censored when he went to have them published. It’s the first appearance of the collection as Chekhov originally intended—complete with the drawings he commissioned from his brother, Nikolay.
[Image above: A portrait of Anton Pawlowitsch Tschechow by I.I. Letvian, 1885-1886; courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.]