At your bidding I am dashing off a reply to your letter, in which you ask me about Astrov's last scene with Elena. You tell me that in this scene Astrov's attitude toward Elena is that of the most ardent man in love, that he "snatches at his feelings as a drowning man at a straw." But that is incorrect, absolutely incorrect! Astrov likes Elena, her beauty takes his breath away, but by the last act he is already aware that the whole business is futile, that Elena is vanishing forever from his sight - and so in this scene the tone he takes with her is the one he would use in discussing the heat in Africa, and he kisses her simply because that is all he has to do. If Astrov interprets this scene tempestuously, the entire mood of Act IV - a quiet and languid one will be ruined . . .
-to Olga Knipper September 30, 1899, Yalta
You ask me if I am excited. As a matter of fact it was only from your letter, received on the twenty-seventh, that I learned Uncle Vanya was being performed on the twenty-sixth. The telegrams started arriving the evening of the twenty-seventh, after I had already gone to bed. They were repeated to me over the telephone. I kept on waking each time and running barefoot to the telephone in the dark, giving myself a bad chill; I would hardly fall asleep before there would be another ring, and another. This is the first occasion of my own personal glory has prevented my sleeping. Upon going to bed the next night I put my bedroom slippers and bathrobe next to the bed, but there were no more telegrams.
-to Olga Knipper, October 30, 1899, Yalta
I am so unlucky in the theatre, so horribly unlucky, that were I to ever marry an actress I expect our child would be born an orangutan or a porcupine.
- to Elena Shavrova, December 26, 1899