Today in a bookstore I saw a greeting-card for sale emblazoned with a quote from Chekhov: "Any idiot can face a crisis--it's the day-to-day living that wears you out." I think I ran across this quote a few weeks ago, too (can't remember where) and was of course struck by its utter Chekhovishness. The truth, the humanity of it. The scorn for the "idiots" who think that our true personalities are revealed only in extreme situations, rather than by the routine ways each of us spend our lives; mixed with a tender, if wry, sympathy for the problems of the "little man."
So when I got home I looked it up--to find out from what play or story or essay it derived. And I couldn't find a source for it at all.
So does this mean that the quote is just too good to be true? Too Chekhovian to be genuine Chekhov? Something that some other clever person once dreamed up, said "Hey! That sounds like Chekhov!" and pretended that it was Chekhov's own words?
I would love to know what the story is with this quote. Sometimes the history of how something gets falsely attributed--and how the lie gets perpetuated--is even more interesting than the quote itself.
My quest for the source of this quote did enable me to spend some quality time with the Wikiquote page on Chekhov--always a valuable undertaking. Two of the quotes there absolutely broke my heart: "I would like to be a free artist and nothing else, and I regret God has not given me the strength to be one" and "Lermontov died at age twenty-eight and wrote more than have you and I put together. Talent is recognizable not only by quality, but also by the quantity it yields." These come from letters he wrote in the late 1880s--by the time he died in 1904, had he changed his beliefs, or did he go to his too-early grave convinced that his output was too meager to qualify him for artistic greatness, still doubting his own ability?
On the other hand, I--who have still never written a one-act play that I consider to be any good--found this quote surprisingly heartening: "In one-act pieces there should be only rubbish—that is their strength. "