Lenin on Tolstoy's vegetarianism - and Chekhov's "learn, learn, learn"

It is well known (and correct) that Leo Tolstoy was a vegetarian, and he was also one of the most influential personalities in the early history of vegetarianism in the Russian-speaking world.

I recently read a book (in German) about the early history of vegetarianism in Russia (Peter Brang, "Ein unbekanntes Russland", 2002 - it also seems to exist in Russian: Россия неизвестная : история культуры вегетарианских образов жизни от начала до наших дней). The book contains many bits of interesting information. One of them is that Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov) in 1908 published an article in the newspaper "Proletariy" (September 1908, number 35; the Russian should be "Пролетарий"). This article is titled "Leo Tolstoy as a mirror of the Russian Revolution", and in it Lenin tries to characterize a "typical Tolstoyan" (a follower of Tolstoy's ideas) and those typical Tolstoyan features in Tolstoy himself. Lenin - describing the Tolstoyan in Tolstoy - writes:

"[...] a slovenly, hysterical crybaby, referred to as a Russian boffin [intelectual], who publicly beats their chest and says: 'I am abhorrent, I am disgusting, but I concern myself with moral self-improvement [self-perfecting]; I no longer eat meat and only eat rice cutlets.'" (My translation of the German version in: Brang 2002, page 109/110; the reference given for this quote is "V. I. Lenin: Sočinenija v 36 tt., t. 15, Moskva 1947, page 180".)

There is another translation from the "Marxists Internet Archive":
"[...] the “Tolstoyan”, i.e., the jaded, hysterical sniveller called the Russian intellectual, who publicly beats his breast and wails: “I am a bad wicked man, but I am practising moral self-perfection; I don’t eat meat any more, I now eat rice cutlets.”"

On the topic of Lenin, the famous quote that is often attributed to Lenin "learn, learn, learn" - and that used to be "popular" in kindergartens and schools throughout the USSR and China - does not seem to have been coined by Lenin.

"Learn, learn, learn!" in the Russian original is "учиться, учиться, учиться!" [uchit'sya, uchit'sya, uchit'sya!] (or in Chinese "学习学习再学习" [Xuéxí xuéxí zài xuéxí]). Note that it can also be translated as "Study, study, study!" (see below). 
[Off topic update: In China, at least nowadays, another slogan seems to be much more common in schools: "好好学习,天天向上" (Hǎo hào xuéxí, tiāntiān xiàngshàng) which means something like "Study hard, improve/grow every day" but is also sometimes jokingly (or unknowingly) translated literally as "good good study, day day up". This is, I think, a quote by Mao Zedong.]

Rather, this slogan seems to originate from a short story by the Russian writer Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (Антон Павлович Чехов, or in "scientific German" Anton Pavlovič Čechov).
Chekhov was a medical doctor and writer who was strongly influenced by Leo Tolstoy. Even though Chekhov does not seem to have been a vegetarian himself, at least not for most of his life, he did criticize unobjective attacks on vegetarianism. 
(The reference given for this is "Čechov: Pis'ma, volume 5, page 163". The original Russian quote seems to have been something like this: "Napadki na vegetarianstvo i, v castnosti, bureninskie pochody na Leskova kazutsja mne ocen podozritel'nymi v etom smysle." ... something like: "Нападки на вегетарианство и, в частности, буренинские походы на Лескова кажутся мне очень подозрительными в этом смысле." (5 February 1892))

It is possible that Chekhov was a vegetarian for a few years because he writes that Tolstoy's philsophy dominated him for 6 or 7 years.
(The reference given for this is "Čechov: Pis'ma, volume 5, page 283-284; also see below: "six or seven years".)

In addition, Chekhov was a keen reader of books by the pro-vegetarian publishing company "Posrednik", and he did request books about vegetarianism from them.
(The reference given for this is "Čechov: Pis'ma, volume 5, page 210.) 

Chekhov also owned a vegetarian cookbook, and the cookbook contains notes by Chekhov, written by hand with a pencil. 
(There is no reference given for this.)

The famous quote "learn, learn, learn" appears in a short story written by Chekhov and published in a supplement to the magazine "Niva" (October 1896). 
(The reference given for this is: Čechov: Sočinenija, volume 9.)   

The title of the story is "My life. The story of a provincial." (in Russian: "Моя жизнь (рассказ провинциала)") It's about the life story of a young nobleman named Misail who, filled with socialist ideals, wants to do some manual labour and earn a living this way. He works in several places, painting houses but also in a slaughterhouse - Chekhov describes the slaughterhouse quite briefly but in dismal colours. (The reference given for this is: Čechov: Sočinenija, volume 9, page 233-234.) 
A police officer takes Misail to a governor who is supposed to convince him to stop being an outsider. The governor asks Misail "Are you a vegetarian?" to which Misail replies "No, your Excellency. I eat meat." (The reference given for this is: Čechov: Sočinenija, volume 9, page 235.)  

I've also looked the description of the slaughterhouse up in "The complete works of Anton Chekhov" (Delphi Classics, 2012): 

"The slaughter-house was behind the cemetery, and till then I had only seen it in the distance. It consisted of three gloomy barns, surrounded by a grey fence, and when the wind blew from that quarter on hot days in summer, it brought a stifling stench from them. Now going into the yard in the dark I did not see the barns; I kept coming across horses and sledges, some empty, some loaded up with meat. Men were walking about with lanterns, swearing in a disgusting way. Prokofy and Nikolka swore just as revoltingly, and the air was in a continual uproar with swearing, coughing, and the neighing of horses.
There was a smell of dead bodies and of dung. It was thawing, the snow was changing into mud; and in the darkness it seemed to me that I was walking through pools of blood.
He stood for half a minute in silence, looking at me with his mouth open. 
“Are you a vegetarian?” he asked. 
“No, your Excellency, I eat meat.”
He sat down and drew some papers towards him. I bowed and went out. It was not worth while now to go to work before dinner. I went home to sleep, but could not sleep from an unpleasant, sickly feeling, induced by the slaughter house and my conversation with the Governor, [...]"

A previous section of the story describes a fight between a woman named Mariya Viktorovna and a male medical doctor named Dr. Blagovo. The doctor mocks the woman for her pro-animal ideas: "If you [...] dedicate your life to such tasks in contemporary taste as the liberation of insects from slavery and the renunciation of beef chops, then my congratulations, madam. What we need is to learn, learn, learn." (учиться, учиться, учиться) (My translation of the German version in: Brang 2002, page 183; the reference given for this is: Čechov: Sočinenija, volume 9, page 230.) 

I've also looked it up in "The complete works of Anton Chekhov" (Delphi Classics, 2012):

“There are no deep social movements among us and never have been,” the doctor declared loudly. “There is no end to what the new literature has invented! It has invented intellectual workers in the country, and you may search through all our villages and find at the most some lout in a reefer jacket or a black frock-coat who will make four mistakes in spelling a word of three letters. Cultured life has not yet begun among us. There’s the same savagery, the same uniform boorishness, the same triviality, as five hundred years ago. Movements, currents there have been, but it has all been petty, paltry, bent upon vulgar and mercenary interests -- and one cannot see anything important in them. If you think you have discerned a deep social movement, and in following it you devote yourself to tasks in the modern taste, such as the emancipation of insects from slavery or abstinence from beef rissoles, I congratulate you, Madam. We must study, and study, and study and we must wait a bit with our deep social movements; we are not mature enough for them yet; and to tell the truth, we don’t know anything about them.”

The most detailed account of vegetarian ideas in Chekhov's writings can be found in his story "Pečeneg" (English: "The Petchenyeg" or "The Petcheneg"; Russian: Печенег), which was published in the magazine (?) "Russkie Vedomosti" on 2 November 1897. The story is about a guest (who is a lawyer and a vegetarian) and a retired officer who receives the guest. The officer, called Zhmuhin, has the nickname "Pečenege", after a steppe-dwelling people considered at the time to be "uncultured and barbaric". The guest does not drink vodka and only eats the bread and cucumbers.
"And why no ham?"
"Thank you, I don't eat any. I don't eat any meat."
"And why is that?"
"I'm a vegetarian. Killing animals - that is against my convictions." (My translation of the German version in: Brang 2002, page 184; the reference given for this is: Čechov: Sočinenija, volume 9, page 325-334.)   

I've also looked it up in "The complete works of Anton Chekhov" (Delphi Classics, 2012):

A young Little Russian woman laid the table and handed ham, then beetroot soup. The visitor refused vodka and ate only bread and cucumbers.
“How about ham?” asked Zhmuhin.
“Thank you, I don’t eat it,” answered the visitor, “I don’t eat meat at all.”
“Why is that?”
“I am a vegetarian. Killing animals is against my principles.”
Zhmuhin thought a minute and then said slowly with a sigh:
“Yes... to be sure.... I saw a man who did not eat meat in town, too. It’s a new religion they’ve got now. Well, it’s good. We can’t go on always shooting and slaughtering, you know; we must give it up some day and leave even the beasts in peace. It’s a sin to kill, it’s a sin, there is no denying it. Sometimes one kills a hare and wounds him in the leg, and he cries like a child.... So it must hurt him!”
“Of course it hurts him; animals suffer just like human beings.”
“That’s true,” Zhmuhin assented. “I understand that very well,” he went on, musing, “only there is this one thing I don’t understand: suppose, you know, everyone gave up eating meat, what would become of the domestic animals -- fowls and geese, for instance?”
“Fowls and geese would live in freedom like wild birds.”
“Now I understand. To be sure, crows and jackdaws get on all right without us. Yes.... Fowls and geese and hares and sheep, all will live in freedom, rejoicing, you know, and praising God; and they will not fear us, peace and concord will come. Only there is one thing, you know, I can’t understand,”
Zhmuhin went on, glancing at the ham. “How will it be with the pigs? What is to be done with them?”
“They will be like all the rest -- that is, they will live in freedom.”
“Ah! Yes. But allow me to say, if they were not slaughtered they would multiply, you know, and then good-bye to the kitchen-gardens and the meadows. Why, a pig, if you let it free and don’t look after it, will ruin everything in a day. A pig is a pig, and it is not for nothing it is called a pig. . . .”

And then later in the story:

Zhmuhin went to bed in his own room. And as he lay there he thought of his soul, of his age, of his recent stroke which had so frightened him and made him think of death. He was fond of philosophizing when he was in quietness by himself, and then he fancied that he was a very earnest, deep thinker, and that nothing in this world interested him but serious questions. And now he kept thinking and he longed to pitch upon some one significant thought unlike others, which would be a guide to him in life, and he wanted to think out principles of some sort for himself so as to make his life as deep and earnest as he imagined that he felt himself to be. It would be a good thing for an old man like him to abstain altogether from meat, from superfluities of all sorts. The time when men give up killing each other and animals would come sooner or later, it could not but be so, and he imagined that time to himself and clearly pictured himself living in peace with all the animals, and suddenly he thought again of the pigs, and everything was in a tangle in his brain.

And ...

The thunderstorm had passed over, but from the edges of the storm-clouds came rain softly pattering on the roof. Zhmuhin got up, stretching and groaning with old age, and looked into the parlour. Noticing that his visitor was not asleep, he said:
“When we were in the Caucasus, you know, there was a colonel there who was a vegetarian, too; he didn’t eat meat, never went shooting, and would not let his servants catch fish. Of course, I understand that every animal ought to live in freedom and enjoy its life; only I don’t understand how a pig can go about where it likes without being looked after. . . .”

Another interesting quote from Chekhov's story "A trivial incident" (1886):
“Excuse me,” she said, screwing up her eyes as she looked towards the road and the gate, “but it would be unfair to allow you only to shoot.... And, besides, what pleasure is there in shooting birds? What’s it for? Are they in your way?”
A solitary life, immured within four walls, with its indoor twilight and heavy smell of decaying furniture, disposes people to sentimentality. Madame Kandurin’s idea did her credit, but I could not resist saying:
“If one takes that line one ought to go barefoot. Boots are made out of the leather of slaughtered animals.” 
“One must distinguish between a necessity and a caprice,” Madame Kandurin answered in a toneless voice.

And from a letter by Chekhov to his sister:
June 13. [1890]
We have taken a little barn of a lodging that reminds one of any of the Kraskovsky summer villas. Just outside the window, two or three yards from the wall, is Lake Baikal. We pay a rouble a day. The mountains, the forests, the mirror-like Baikal are all poisoned for me by the thought that we shall have to stay here till the fifteenth. What are we to do here? What is more, we don’t know what there is for us to eat. The inhabitants feed upon nothing but garlic. There is neither meat nor fish. They have given us no milk, but have promised it. For a little white loaf they demanded sixteen kopecks. I bought some buckwheat and a piece of smoked pork, and asked them to make a thin porridge of it: it was not nice, but there was nothing to be done, I had to eat it. All the evening we hunted about the village to find someone who would sell us a hen, and found no one…. But there is vodka. The Russian is a great pig. If you ask him why he doesn’t eat meat and fish he justifies himself by the absence of transport, ways and communications, and so on, and yet vodka is to be found in the remotest villages and as much of it as you please. And yet one would have supposed that it would have been much easier to obtain meat and fish than vodka, which is more expensive and more difficult to transport…. Yes, drinking vodka must be much more interesting than fishing in Lake Baikal or rearing cattle.

And from a letter to A. S. Suvorin:
September 8. [1891]
The title you recommend for my novel — “Deception” — will not do: it would only be appropriate if it were a question of conscious lying. Unconscious lying is not deception but a mistake. Tolstoy calls our having money and eating meat lying — that’s too much….

And also from a letter to A. S. Suvorin (this quotation is very famous: "Now something in me protests ..."):
March 27, 1894.
[...] Tolstoy’s morality has ceased to touch me; at the bottom of my heart I take up a hostile attitude towards it, and that of course is not just. I have peasant blood in my veins, and you won’t astonish me with peasant virtues. From my childhood I have believed in progress, and I could not help believing in it since the difference between the time when I used to be thrashed and when they gave up thrashing me was tremendous…. But Tolstoy’s philosophy touched me profoundly and took possession of me for six or seven years, and what affected me was not its general propositions, with which I was familiar beforehand, but Tolstoy’s manner of expressing it, his reasonableness, and probably a sort of hypnotism. Now something in me protests, reason and justice tell me that in the electricity and heat of love for man there is something greater than chastity and abstinence from meat. War is an evil and legal justice is an evil; but it does not follow from that that I ought to wear bark shoes and sleep on the stove with the labourer, and so on, and so on. But that is not the point, it is not a matter of pro and con; the thing is that in one way or another Tolstoy has passed for me, he is not in my soul, and he has departed from me, saying: “I leave this your house empty.” I am untenanted. I am sick of theorizing of all sorts, and such bounders as Max Nordau I read with positive disgust. Patients in a fever do not want food, but they do want something, and that vague craving they express as “longing for something sour.” I, too, want something sour, and that’s not a mere chance feeling, for I notice the same mood in others around me. It is just as if they had all been in love, had fallen out of love, and now were looking for some new distraction. It is very possible and very likely that the Russians will pass through another period of enthusiasm for the natural sciences, and that the materialistic movement will be fashionable. Natural science is performing miracles now. And it may act upon people like Mamay, and dominate them by its mass and grandeur. All that is in the hands of God, however. And theorizing about it makes one’s head go round.

And in a letter to Gorky:
October 16, 1900.
The weather in Yalta is exquisite and fresh, my health is improving. I don’t even want to go away to Moscow. I am working so well, and it is so pleasant to be free from the irritation I suffered from all the summer. I am not coughing, and am even eating meat. I am living alone, quite alone. My mother is in Moscow.
[Chekhov had already been suffering from tuberculosis since 1884, and he died of it in 1904.]

Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy in Yalta, 1901 (or 1900)