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8 qualities of cultured people according to birthday boy Anton Chekhov


Chances are you were assigned a bit of Chekhov to read in high school English or to fulfill a gen-ed requirement in college, devouring (skimming) such classics as The Cherry Orchard or Uncle Vanya and since filed the names in the back of your mind to seem well read while not really remembering much about them at all.

Let’s face it, though, that’s not really poor Chekhov’s fault.

In honor of what would have been his 153rd birthday, Maria Popova of Brain Pickings dug out this instructive list written to his brother, Nikolai, concerning the eight characteristics of cultured people, which contains a number of suggestions modern society would recognize and others that have been lost by the cultural wayside.

(Though you may not feel the need to take all eight to heart, the end of number two is a good reminder that Mother’s Day isn’t too far off, and won’t you feel better if you just get her a gift now? She might not think you’re cultured, but she will think you’re a big, old sweetie-pie.)

1. They respect human personality, and therefore they are always kind, gentle, polite, and ready to give in to others. They do not make a row because of a hammer or a lost piece of india-rubber; if they live with anyone they do not regard it as a favour and, going away, they do not say “nobody can live with you.” They forgive noise and cold and dried-up meat and witticisms and the presence of strangers in their homes.

2. They have sympathy not for beggars and cats alone. Their heart aches for what the eye does not see…. They sit up at night in order to help P…., to pay for brothers at the University, and to buy clothes for their mother.

3. They respect the property of others, and therefor pay their debts.

Full story at Brain Pickings.

Advice from writers.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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