CHEKHOV, ANTON PAVLOVICH. 1860-1904.
Povesti i razskazy [Stories and Tales]. Moscow: I. D. Sytin, 1894.
8vo. 287 pp. Original gilt-lettered navy blue cloth. Slight rubbing to spine edges and extremities, corners bumped with damp stain at lower left on front; neat repairs at gutters to pp 279-82.
Provenance: Semen Ilich Bychkov (presentation inscription); Emauel Tsypelzon.
PRESENTATION COPY warmly inscribed on the title page: "To Semen Ilich Bychkov from the author. Anton Chekhov. 25 March 1897. In nice memory." Bychkov was a waiter at the Grand Hotel in Moscow where Chekhov stayed. "I'd been a factory worker, a yard man, worked in a puppet theater, in pantomime and done everything," Bychkov recalled. "Of all the people staying at the hotel only Anton Chekhov spoke to me simply, man-to-man, without pride, with none of that looking down on you. And he gave me his writings, I started reading and at that minute a new light illuminated me ... I loved him fervently with all my soul" (Rayfield p 391). The character Nikolai Chikildeev in the highly regarded short story "Peasants" (1897) was apparently based on Bychkov. "You certainly took me as a type, as one of your harmless peasants," Bychkov wrote Chekhov. "You called me Nicholas and my wife Olga" (The Oxford Chekhov, 1968, p 302). The two became so close that Chekhov acted as godfather to Bychkov's daughter. She recalled that her father worshiped Chekhov. He helped the playwright's sister publish his letters and organized numerous events dedicated to Chekhov. See Literaturnoe nasledstvo: Chekhov, Vol 68, pp 265, 268, 884, 890 and 924.