120 Anton Chekhov Quotes

Get a taste of Russian literature and culture through this collection of the best Anton Chekhov quotes.

If you’re curious about how he helped Russians during his time with reading literature, then be sure to read the whole collection below.

Anton Chekhov wrote with clarity, humor, and simplicity so everyone can understand the messages he’s trying to share.

However, though simple, his works were never less than meaningful.

His characters and his plot both had souls that clearly describe human nature and the kind of society and environment he lived in.

Today, we’re covering many of the topics he wrote about like passion, human experiences, love, and writing.

Start reading the full collection here.

And don’t forget to check out these Leo Tolstoy quotes and Arthur Conan Doyle quotes.

Best Anton Chekhov Quotes

Anton Chekhov Quotes - The world is, of course, nothing but our conception of it.

1. “The world is, of course, nothing but our conception of it.”

2. “Any idiot can face a crisis; it’s this day-to-day living that wears you out.”

3. “When asked, ‘Why do you always wear black?’ He said, ‘I am mourning for my life.’”

4. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

5. “The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.”

6. “Wisdom comes not from age, but from education and learning.”

7. “Perhaps man has a hundred senses, and when he dies, only the five senses that we know perish with him, and the other ninety-five remain alive.”

8. “What fine weather today! Can’t choose whether to drink tea or to hang myself.”

9. “I marvel at you who exchange heaven for earth. I don’t want to understand you.”

Engaging Anton Chekhov Quotes

Anton Chekhov Quotes - One should not put a loaded rifle onto the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.

10. “One should not put a loaded rifle onto the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.”

11. “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.”

12. “Everything except what we think or do ourselves when we forget the higher aims of life and our own human dignity.”

13. “The world is wide and beautiful, and there are many wonderful places in it.”

14. “One has to be a mindless barbarian to burn such beauty in a stove, to destroy what we can not create.”

15. “I understand that in our work—doesn’t matter whether it’s acting or writing—what’s important isn’t fame or glamour, none of the things I used to dream about. It’s the ability to endure.”

16. “In your books, I have flung myself into the bottomless pit, performed miracles, slain, burned towns, preached new religions, conquered whole kingdoms.”

17. “Every individual existence revolves around mystery, and perhaps that is the chief reason that all cultivated individuals insist so strongly on respect due to personal secrets.”

18. “Our whole aim—the whole sense of our life—is to avoid petty illusions that stop us being free and happy. On, on, on!”

19. “The geniuses of all ages and of all lands speak different languages, but the same flame burns in them all. Oh, if you only knew what unearthly happiness my soul feels now from being able to understand them.”

Philosophical Anton Chekhov Quotes

Anton Chekhov Quotes - Being in love shows a person who he should be.

20. “Perhaps the feelings that we experience when we are in love represent a normal state. Being in love shows a person who he should be.”

21. “Man is what he believes.”

22.“There is nothing more awful, insulting, and depressing than banality.”

23. “Man will become better when you show him what he is like.”

24. “They say philosophers and wise men are indifferent. Wrong. Indifference is a paralysis of the soul—a premature death.”

25. “Everything in which he was sincere and did not deceive himself, everything that made the kernel of his life, was hidden from other people.”

26. “If you want to work on your art, work on your life.”

27. “Do silly things. Foolishness is a great deal more vital and healthy than our straining and striving after a meaningful life.”

28. “Nothing can be accomplished by logic and ethics.”

29. “Fine. Since the tea is not forthcoming, let’s have a philosophical conversation.”

Anton Chekhov Quotes That Will Make You Think

Anton Chekhov Quotes - If you are afraid of loneliness, don't marry.

30. “If you are afraid of loneliness, don’t marry.”

31. “To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.”

32. “The happy man only feels at ease because the unhappy bear their burden in silence. Without this silence, happiness would be impossible.”

33. “Even in Siberia, there is happiness.”

34. “Be sure not to discuss your hero’s state of mind. Make it clear from his actions.”

35. “He had two lives—one, open, seen, and known by all who cared to know—full of relative truth and of relative falsehood, exactly like the lives of his friends and acquaintances; and another life running its course in secret.”

36. “Only during hard times do people come to understand how difficult it is to be master of their feelings and thoughts.”

37. “Tell me what you want and I’ll tell you who you are.”

38. “When one has no real life, one lives by mirages. It’s still better than nothing.”

39. “And what does it mean—dying?”

Anton Chekhov Quotes on His Dedication to Knowledge

Anton Chekhov Quotes - Medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress.

40. “Medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress. When I get fed up with one, I spend the night with the other.”

41. “The task of a writer is not to solve the problem, but to state the problem correctly.”

42. “And I despise your books, I despise wisdom and the blessings of this world. It is all worthless, fleeting, illusory, and deceptive, like a mirage.”

43. “There are a great many opinions in this world, and a good half of them are professed by people who have never been in trouble.”

44. “When a lot of remedies are suggested for a disease, that means it cannot be cured.”

45. “Dear and most respected bookcase! I welcome your existence, which has for over one hundred years been devoted to the radiant ideals of goodness and justice.”

46. “I should think I’m going to be a perpetual student.”

47. “What must human beings be, to destroy what they can never create?”

48. “Here I am with you, and yet not for a single moment do I forget that there’s an unfinished novel waiting for me.”

49. “The illusion which exalts us is dearer to us than ten thousand truths.”

Anton Chekhov Quotes on Matters of the Heart and Relationships

Anton Chekhov Quotes - There should be more sincerity and heart in human relations, more silence and simplicity in our interactions.

50. “There should be more sincerity and heart in human relations, more silence and simplicity in our interactions.”

51. “Be rude when you’re angry, laugh when something is funny, and answer when you’re asked.”

52. “A woman can become a man’s friend only in the following stages—first, an acquaintance; next, a mistress; and only then a friend.”

53. “And with a burning pain in my heart, I realized how unnecessary, how petty, and how deceptive all that had hindered us from loving was.”

54. “If ever my life can be of any use to you, come and claim it.”

55. “Only one who loves can remember so well.”

56. “I understood that when you love, you must either, in your reasoning about that love, start from what is highest, from what is more important than happiness or unhappiness, sin or virtue in their accepted meaning, or you must not reason at all.”

67. “I kept thinking how marvellous it would be if I could somehow tear my heart—which felt so heavy—out of my chest.”

58. “And only now, when he was gray-haired, had he fallen in love properly—thoroughly—for the first time in his life.”

59. “She had a passionate longing for the garden, the darkness, the pure sky, the stars.”

Anton Chekhov Quotes on Life and His Experiences

Anton Chekhov Quotes - We shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.

60. “We shall find peace. We shall hear angels. We shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.”

61. “Do you see that tree? It is dead, but it still sways in the wind with the others. I think it would be like that with me—that if I died I would still be part of life in one way or another.”

62. “I was oppressed with a sense of vague discontent and dissatisfaction with my own life, which was passing so quickly and uninteresting, and I kept thinking it would be a good thing if I could tear my heart out of my breast, that heart which had grown so weary of life.”

63. “I think human beings must have faith or must look for faith. Otherwise, our life is empty.”

64. “On the whole, life gets more and more complex every day and moves on its own sweet will, and people get more and more stupid, and get isolated from life in ever-increasing numbers.”

65. “It’s very hard, feeling that you’re no more than a piece of unwanted furniture in this world.”

66. “I dress in black to match my life. I am unhappy.”

67. “You look at life—the insolence and idleness of the strong, the ignorance and brutishness of the weak, incredible poverty all about us, overcrowding, degeneration, drunkenness, hypocrisy, lying.”

68. “This life of ours—human life—is like a flower gloriously blooming in a meadow, along comes a goat, eats it up, no more flower.”

69. “Let us learn to appreciate that there will be times when the trees will be bare, and look forward to the time when we may pick the fruit.”

Anton Chekhov Quotes on Understanding Life

Anton Chekhov Quotes - Why are we worn out? Why do we, who start out so passionate, brave, noble, believing, become totally bankrupt by the age of thirty or thirty-five?

70. “Why are we worn out? Why do we, who start out so passionate, brave, noble, believing, become totally bankrupt by the age of thirty or thirty-five?”

71. “These people have learned not from books, but in the fields, in the wood, on the river bank. Their teachers have been the birds themselves, when they sang to them, the sun when it left a glow of crimson behind it at setting, the very trees, and wild herbs.”

72. “To live and not to know why the cranes fly, why children are born, why there are stars in the sky. You must know why you are alive, or else everything is nonsense, just blowing in the wind.”

73. “You’ve never understood what kind of person I am, nor will you in a million years. You just think I’m a mad person who has thrown his life away. Once the free spirit has taken hold of a man, there’s no way of getting it out of him.”

74. “Evidently, the happy man only feels at ease because the unhappy bear their burdens in silence, and without that silence happiness would be impossible.”

75. “In all the universe, nothing remains permanent and unchanged but the spirit.”

76. “There will come a time when everybody will know why, for what purpose, there is all this suffering, and there will be no more mysteries. But now we must live—we must work, just work!”

77. “In Moscow, you sit in a huge room at a restaurant; you know no one and no one knows you, and at the same time you don’t feel like a stranger. But here, you know everyone and everyone knows you, and yet you are a stranger.”

78. “To harbor spiteful feelings against ordinary people for not being heroes is possible only for narrow-minded or embittered men.”

79. “I don’t understand anything about the ballet; all I know is that during the intervals the ballerinas stink like horses.”

Anton Chekhov Quotes on Writing and Working the Mind

Anton Chekhov Quotes - Drop by drop, squeezes the slave's blood out of himself until he wakes one day to find the blood of a real human being.

80. “Write about this man who, drop by drop, squeezes the slave’s blood out of himself until he wakes one day to find the blood of a real human being—not a slave’s coursing through his veins.”

81. “We just philosophize, complain of boredom, or drink vodka.”

82. “They say, ‘Tell me what you’ve read and I’ll tell you who you are.’”

83. “My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.”

84. “In displaying the psychology of your characters, minute particulars are essential. God save us from vague generalizations!”

85. “For God’s sake, have some self-respect and do not run off at the mouth if your brain is out to lunch.”

86. “He is an emancipated thinker who is not afraid to write foolish things.”

87. “How easy it is, Doctor, to be a philosopher on paper, and how difficult in real life!”

88. “When you want to touch the reader’s heart, try to be colder. It gives their grief as it were, a background, against which it stands out in greater relief.”

89. “Day and night, I am held in the grip of one besetting thought, to write, write, write! Hardly have I finished one book then something urges me to write another, and then a third, and then a fourth—I write ceaselessly.”

Anton Chekhov Quotes on Wisdom and Insight

Anton Chekhov Quotes - If we're to begin living in the present, we must first of all redeem our past and then be done with it forever.

90. “It’s so clear, you see, that if we’re to begin living in the present, we must first of all redeem our past and then be done with it forever.”

91. “We should show life neither as it is, nor as it should be, but as we see it in our dreams.”

92. “I don’t understand you, you don’t understand me, and we don’t understand ourselves.”

93. “I’ve never been in love. I’ve dreamt of it day and night, but my heart is like a fine piano no one can play because the key is lost.”

94. “Unhappiness does not bring people together, but draws them apart. And even where one would fancy people should be united by the similarity of their sorrow, far more injustice and cruelty is generated than in comparatively placid surroundings.”

95. “A hungry dog believes in nothing but meat.”

96. “A naive man is nothing better than a fool. But you women contrive to be naive in such a way that in you it seems sweet, and gentle, and proper, and not as silly as it really is.”

97. “My thoughts about human happiness, for some peculiar reason, had always been tinged with a certain sadness.”

98. “There is nothing new in art except talent.”

99. “Oh, how people love to disappear from your life. Especially when you already got attached to them.”

Anton Chekhov Quotes on Humanity and Values

Anton Chekhov Quotes -  Which executioner is the more humane - he who kills you in a few minutes or he who drags the life out of you in the course of many years?

100. “Which executioner is the more humane—he who kills you in a few minutes or he who drags the life out of you in the course of many years?”

101. “Never talk to women about your own good qualities. Let them find out for themselves.”

102. “You are bolder, more honest, deeper than we are, but think only, be just a little magnanimous, and have mercy on me.”

103. “Laziness is laziness, and weakness is weakness. I can find no other names for them. I am lost, I am lost; there is no doubt of that.”

104. “If an intelligent, educated, and healthy man begins to complain of his lot and go down-hill, there is nothing for him to do but to go on down until he reaches the bottom—there is no hope for him.”

105. “Try looking at yourselves a little more often and see what gray lives you all lead. How much of what you say is unnecessary.”

106. “You boldly look forward, isn’t it because you cannot foresee or expect anything terrible, because so far life has been hidden from your young eyes?”

107. “A sweet lie is more gracious for us than a virulent but real truth.”

108. “My holy of holies is the human body, health, intelligence, talent, inspiration, love, and absolute freedom—freedom from violence and falsehood, no matter how the last two manifest themselves.”

109. “Love, friendship, and respect do not unite people as much as a common hatred for something.”

Anton Chekhov Quotes on Hard Work and Dedication to His Craft

Anton Chekhov Quotes - The only way we can redeem our past is by suffering and by giving ourselves over to exceptional labor, to steadfast and endless labor.

110. “The only way we can redeem our past is by suffering and by giving ourselves over to exceptional labor, to steadfast and endless labor.”

111. “Only entropy comes easy.”

112. “Art, especially the stage, is an area where it is impossible to walk without stumbling.”

113. “The teacher must be an actor, an artist—passionately in love with his work.”

114. “I must run away, I must escape this very day, or I shall go out of my mind.”

115. “There are in store for you many unsuccessful days and whole unsuccessful seasons. There will be great misunderstandings and deep disappointments. You must be prepared for all this, expect it and nevertheless, stubbornly, fanatically follow your own way.”

116. “You’ve only got to begin to do anything to find out how few honest, honourable people there are.”

117. “In the search for truth, human beings take two steps forward and one step back. Suffering, mistakes, and weariness of life thrust them back, but the thirst for truth and stubbornness will drive them forward. And who knows? Perhaps they will reach the truth at last.”

118. “Once a man gets a fixed idea, there’s nothing to be done.”

119. “It’s better to live down a scandal than to ruin one’s life.”

120. “If one wants to lead a good life—a human life—one must work.”

Have You Gained Insight Into Your Life Through These Anton Chekhov Quotes?

We sometimes turn to reading to experience a whole new world that’s entirely different from the lives we’re living. But sometimes, we turn to books to find characters and plots that resonate with our own being and personality. We look for people we can relate to, not in a physical sense, but on a deeper level—their emotions, their struggles, desires, failures, and triumphs. Anton Chekhov gives us exactly that through his characters and storylines. One can compare him with Shakespeare’s works who was also able to clearly outline human nature and consciousness. He gives us a form of escape and at the same time a sense of belongingness and understanding—that no matter what it is we’re going through today, someone, somewhere, at some time, also experienced the same thing. We’re not alone, and failure is normal. To err is human, as they say.

What did you learn from Anton Chekhov? Are you familiar with his works? Which quote from today’s collection struck you the most? We’d love to hear from you, so be sure to leave a comment down below!

Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

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