Other People’s Partings

Peter Orner at The Paris Review:

So many accounts of Chekhov’s death, many of them exaggerated, some outright bogus. The only indisputable thing is that he died at forty-four. That’s etched in stone in Moscow. I like to read them anyway. I’m not alone. Chekhov death fanatics abound.

His last sip of champagne. The whole thing about the popping of the cork, I forget what exactly. The enigmatic words he likely never said: Has the sailor left? But wouldn’t it be wonderful if he had said them? What sailor? Where’d he go?

His wife, the actress Olga Knipper, wrote that a huge black moth careened around the room crashing into light bulbs as he took his final breaths. Olga was present in the room, of course, but I don’t think she was above creating myths, either. They had only so little time together, less than five years.

more here.