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but still it is nothing to the father." He went home and got into bed
and, looking at his father's portrait, shook his fist at him.

* * * * *

We fret ourselves to reform life, in order that posterity may be
happy, and posterity will say as usual: "In the past it used to be
better, the present is worse than the past."

* * * * *

My motto: I don't want anything.

* * * * *

When a decent working-man takes himself and his work critically,
people call him grumbler, idler, bore; but when an idle scoundrel
shouts that it is necessary to work, he is applauded.

* * * * *

When a woman destroys things like a man, people think it natural and
everybody understands it; but when like a man, she wishes or tries to
create, people think it unnatural and cannot reconcile themselves to
it.

* * * * *

When I married, I became an old woman.

* * * * *

He looked down on the world from the height of his baseness.

* * * * *

"Your fiancée is very pretty." "To me all women are alike."

* * * * *

He dreamt of winning three hundred thousand in lottery, twice in
succession, because three hundred thousand would not be enough for
him.

* * * * *

N., a retired Councillor of State, lives in the country; he is
sixty-six. He is educated, liberal-minded, reads, likes an argument.
He learns from his guests that the new coroner Z. walks about with a
slipper on one foot and a boot on the other, and lives with another
man's wife. N. thinks all the time of Z.; he does nothing but talk
about him, how he walks about in one slipper and lives with another
man's wife; he talks of nothing else; at last he goes to sleep with
his own wife (he has not slept with her for the last eight years), he
is agitated and the whole time talks about Z. Finally he has a stroke,
his arm and leg are paralyzed - and all this from agitation about Z.
The doctor comes. With him too N. talks about Z. The doctor says that
he knows Z., that Z. now wears two boots, his leg being well, and that
he has married the lady.

* * * * *

I hope that in the next world I shall be able to look back at this
life and say: "Those were beautiful dreams...."

* * * * *

The squire N., looking at the undergraduate and the young girl,
the children of his steward Z.: "I am sure Z. steals from me, lives
grandly on stolen money, the undergraduate and the girl know it or
ought to know it; why then do they look so decent?"

* * * * *

She is fond of the word "compromise," and often uses it; "I am
incapable of compromise...." "A board which has the shape of a
parallelepiped."

* * * * *

The hereditary honorable citizen Oziaboushkin always tries to make out
that his ancestors had the right to the title of Count.

* * * * *

"He is a perfect dab at it." "O, O, don't use that expression; my
mother is very particular."

* * * * *

I have just married my third husband ... the name of the first
was Ivan Makarivitch ... of the second Peter ... Peter ... I have
forgotten.

* * * * *

The writer Gvozdikov thinks that he is very famous, that every one
knows him. He arrives at S., meets an officer who shakes his hand for
a long time, looking with rapture into his face. G. is glad, he
too shakes hands warmly.... At last the officer: "And how is your
orchestra? Aren't you the conductor?"

* * * * *

Morning; M.'s mustaches are in curl papers.

* * * * *

And it seemed to him that he was highly respected and valued
everywhere, anywhere, even in railway buffets, and so he always ate
with a smile on his face.

* * * * *

The birds sing, and already it begins to seem to him that they do not
sing, but whine.

* * * * *

N., father of a family, listens to his son reading aloud J.J. Rousseau
to the family, and thinks: "Well, at any rate, J.J. Rousseau had no
gold medal on his breast, but I have one."

* * * * *

N. has a spree with his step-son, an undergraduate, and they go to a
brothel. In the morning the undergraduate is going away, his leave is
up; N. sees him off. The undergraduate reads him a sermon on their
bad behavior; they quarrel. N: "As your father, I curse you." - "And I
curse you."

* * * * *

A doctor is called in, but a nurse sent for.

* * * * *

N.N.V. never agrees with anyone: "Yes, the ceiling is white, that
can be admitted; but white, as far as is known, consists of the seven
colors of the spectrum, and it is quite possible that in this case
one of the colors is darker or brighter than is necessary for the
production of pure white; I had rather think a bit before saying that
the ceiling is white."

* * * * *

He holds himself exactly as though he were an icon.

* * * * *

"Are you in love?" - "There's a little bit of that in it."

* * * * *

Whatever happens, he says: "It is the priests."

* * * * *

Firzikov.

* * * * *

N. dreams that he is returning from abroad, and that at Verzhbolovo,
in spite of his protests, they make him pay duty on his wife.

* * * * *

When that radical, having dined with his coat off, walked into his
bedroom and I saw the braces on his back, it became clear to me that
that radical is a bourgeois, a hopeless bourgeois.

* * * * *

Some one saw Z., an unbeliever and blasphemer, secretly praying in
front of the icon in the cathedral, and they all teased him.

* * * * *

They called the manager "four-funneled cruiser," because he had
already gone "through the chimney" (bankrupt) four times.

* * * * *

He is not stupid, he was at the university, has studied long and
assiduously, but in writing he makes gross mistakes.

* * * * *

Countess Nadin's daughter gradually turns into a housekeeper; she is
very timid, and can only say "No-o," "Yes-s," and her hands always
tremble. Somehow or other a Zemstvo official wished to marry her; he
is a widower and she marries him, with him too it was "Yes-s," "No-o";
she was very much afraid of her husband and did not love him; one day
he happened to give a loud cough, it gave her a fright, and she died.

* * * * *

Caressing her lover: "My vulture."

* * * * *

For a play: If only you would say something funny. But for twenty
years we have lived together and you have always talked of serious
things; I hate serious things.

* * * * *

A cook, with a cigarette in her mouth, lies: "I studied at a high
school ... I know what for the earth is round."

* * * * *

"Society for finding and raising anchors of steamers and barges," and
the Society's agent at all functions without fail makes a speech, à la
N., and without fail promises.

* * * * *

Super-mysticism.

* * * * *

When I become rich, I shall have a harem in which I shall keep fat
naked women, with their buttocks painted green.

* * * * *

A shy young man came on a visit for the night: suddenly a deaf old
woman came into his room, carrying a cupping-glass, and bled him; he
thought that this must be the usual thing and so did not protest; in
the morning it turned out that the old woman had made a mistake.

* * * * *

Surname: Verstax.

* * * * *

The more stupid the peasant, the better does the horse understand him.




THEMES, THOUGHTS, NOTES, AND FRAGMENTS.


... How stupid and for the most part how false, since if one man seeks
to devour another or tell him something unpleasant it has nothing to
do with Granovsky.[1]

[Footnote 1: A well-known Radical professor, a Westerner.]

* * * * *

I left Gregory Ivanovitch's feeling crushed and mortally offended.
I was irritated by smooth words and by those who speak them, and on
reaching home I meditated thus: some rail at the world, others at the
crowd, that is to say praise the past and blame the present; they cry
out that there are no ideals and so on, but all this has already been
said twenty or thirty years ago; these are worn-out forms which have
already served their time, and whoever repeats them now, he too is no
longer young and is himself worn out. With last year's foliage there
decay too those who live in it. I thought, we uncultured, worn-out
people, banal in speech, stereotyped in intentions, have grown quite
mouldy, and, while we intellectuals are rummaging among old rags and,
according to the old Russian custom, biting one another, there is
boiling up around us a life which we neither know nor notice. Great
events will take us unawares, like sleeping fairies, and you will see
that Sidorov, the merchant, and the teacher of the school at
Yeletz, who see and know more than we do, will push us far into the
background, because they will accomplish more than all of us put
together. And I thought that were we now to obtain political liberty,
of which we talk so much, while engaged in biting one another, we
should not know what to do with it, we should waste it in accusing one
another in the newspapers of being spies and money-grubbers, we should
frighten society with the assurance that we have neither men, nor
science, nor literature, nothing! Nothing! And to scare society as we
are doing now, and as we shall continue to do, means to deprive it
of courage; it means simply to declare that we have no social or
political sense in us. And I also thought that, before the dawn of a
new life has broken, we shall turn into sinister old men and women and
we shall be the first who, in our hatred of that dawn, will calumniate
it.

* * * * *

Mother never stops talking about poverty. It is very strange. In the
first place, it is strange that we are poor, beg like beggars, and at
the same time eat superbly, live in a large house; in the summer we go
to our own country house, and generally speaking we do not look like
beggars. Evidently this is not poverty, but something else, and rather
worse. Secondly, it is strange that for the last ten years mother has
been spending all her energy solely on getting money to pay interest.
It seems to me that were mother to spend that terrible energy on
something else, we could have twenty such houses. Thirdly, it seems to
me strange that the hardest work in the family is done by mother, not
by me. To me that is the strangest thing of all, most terrible. She
has, as she has just said, a thought on her brain, she begs, she
humiliates herself; our debts grow daily and up till now I have not
done a single thing to help her. What can I do? I think and think and
cannot make it out. I only see clearly that we are rushing down an
inclined plane, but to what, the devil knows. They say that poverty
threatens us and that in poverty there is disgrace, but that too I
cannot understand, since I was never poor.

* * * * *

The spiritual life of these women is as gray and dull as their faces
and dresses; they speak of science, literature, tendencies, and the
like, only because they are the wives and sisters of scholars and
literary men; were they the wives and sisters of inspectors or of
dentists, they would speak with the same zeal of fires or teeth.
To allow them to speak of science, which is foreign to them, and to
listen to them, is to flatter their ignorance.

* * * * *

Essentially all this is crude and meaningless, and romantic love
appears as meaningless as an avalanche which involuntarily rolls down
a mountain and overwhelms people. But when one listens to music, all
this is: that some people lie in their graves and sleep, and that one
woman is alive - gray-haired, she is sitting in a box in the theatre,
quiet and majestic, and the avalanche seems no longer meaningless,
since in nature everything has a meaning. And everything is forgiven,
and it would be strange not to forgive.

* * * * *

Olga Ivanovna regarded old chairs, stools, sofas, with the same
respectful tenderness as she regarded old dogs and horses, and her
room, therefore, was something like an alms-house for furniture.
Round the mirror, on all tables and shelves, stood photographs of
uninteresting, half-forgotten people; on the walls hung pictures at
which nobody ever looked; and it was always dark in the room, because
there burnt there only one lamp with a blue shade.

* * * * *

If you cry "Forward," you must without fail explain in which direction
one must go. Do you not see that, if without explaining the
direction, you fire off this word simultaneously at a monk and at a
revolutionary, they will proceed in precisely opposite directions?

* * * * *

It is said in Holy Writ: "Fathers, do not irritate your children,"
even the wicked and good-for-nothing children; but the fathers
irritate me, irritate me terribly. My contemporaries chime in with
them and the youngsters follow, and every minute they strike me in the
face with their smooth words.

* * * * *

That the aunt suffered and did not show it gave him the impression of
a trick.

* * * * *

O.I. was in constant motion; such women, like bees, carry about a
fertilizing pollen....

* * * * *

Don't marry a rich woman - she will drive you out of the house; don't
marry a poor woman - you won't sleep; but marry the freest freedom, the
lot and life of a Cossack. (Ukrainian saying.)

* * * * *

_Aliosha_: "I often hear people say: 'Before marriage there is
romance, and then - goodbye, illusion!' How heartless and coarse it
is."

* * * * *

So long as a man likes the splashing of a fish, he is a poet; but when
he knows that the splashing is nothing but the chase of the weak by
the strong, he is a thinker; but when he does not understand what
sense there is in the chase, or what use in the equilibrium which
results from destruction, he is becoming silly and dull, as he
was when a child. And the more he knows and thinks, the sillier he
becomes.

* * * * *

_The death of a child_. I have no sooner sat down in peace
than - bang - fate lets fly at me.

* * * * *

The she-wolf, nervous and anxious, fond of her young, dragged away a
foal into her winter-shelter, thinking him a lamb. She knew that there
was a ewe there and that the ewe had young. While she was dragging
the foal away, suddenly some one whistled; she was alarmed and dropped
him, but he followed her. They arrived at the shelter. He began to
suck like the young wolves. Throughout the winter he changed but
little; he only grew thin and his legs longer, and the spot on
his forehead turned into a triangle. The she-wolf was in delicate
health.[1]

[Footnote 1: A sketch of part of the story "Whitehead."]

* * * * *

They invited celebrities to these evening parties, and it was dull
because there are few people of talent in Moscow, and the same singers
and reciters performed at all evening parties.

* * * * *

She has not before felt herself so free and easy with a man.

* * * * *

You wait until you grow up and I'll teach you declamation.

* * * * *

It seemed to her that at the show many of the pictures were alike.

* * * * *

There filed up before you a whole line of laundry-maids.

* * * * *

Kostya insisted that the women had robbed themselves.

* * * * *

L. put himself in the place of the juryman and interpreted it thus: if
it was a case of house-breaking, then there was no theft, because the
laundresses themselves sold the linen and spent the money on
drink; but if it was a case of theft, then there could have been no
house-breaking.

* * * * *

Fiodor was flattered that his brother had found him at the same table
with a famous actor.

* * * * *

When Y. spoke or ate, his beard moved as if he had no teeth in his
mouth.

* * * * *

Ivashin loved Nadya Vishnyevsky and was afraid of his love. When the
butler told him that the old lady had just gone out, but the young
lady was at home, he fumbled in his fur coat and dress-coat pocket,
found his card, and said: "Right."

But it was not all right. Driving from his house in the morning, to
pay a visit, he thought that he was compelled to it by conventions of
society, which weighed heavily upon him. But now it was clear to
him that he went to pay calls only because somewhere far away in the
depths of his soul, as under a veil, there lay hidden a hope that he
would see Nadya.... And he suddenly felt pitiful, sad, and a little
frightened....

* * * * *

In his soul, it seemed to him, it was snowing, and everything faded
away. He was afraid to love Nadya, because he was too old for her,
thought his appearance unattractive, and did not believe that
young girls like Nadya could love men for their minds and spiritual
qualities. Still there would at times rise in him something like a
hope. But now, from the moment when the officer's spurs jingled and
then died away, there also died away his timid love.... All was at an
end, hope was impossible.... "Yes, now all is finished," he thought,
"I am glad, very glad."

* * * * *

He imagined his wife to be not Nadya, but always, for some reason, a
stout woman with a large bosom, covered with Venetian lace.

* * * * *

The clerks in the office of the Governor of the island have a drunken
headache. They long for a drink. They have no money. What is to be
done? One of them, a convict who is serving his time here for forgery,
devises a plan. He goes to the church, where a former officer, now
exiled for giving his superior a box on the ears, sings in the choir,
and says to him panting: "Here! There's a pardon come for you! They
have got a telegram in the office."

The late officer turns pale, trembles, and can hardly walk for
excitement.

"But for such news you ought to give something for a drink," says the
clerk.

"Take all I have! All!"

And he hands him some five roubles.... He arrives at the office. The
officer is afraid that he may die from joy and presses his hand to his
heart.

"Where is the telegram?"

"The bookkeeper has put it away." (He goes to the bookkeeper.) General
laughter and an invitation to drink with them.

"How terrible!"

After that the officer was ill for a week.[1]

[Footnote 1: An episode which Chekhov heard during his journey in the
island, Saghalien.]

* * * * *

Fedya, the steward's brother-in-law, told Ivanov that wild-duck were
feeding on the other side of the wood. He loaded his gun with slugs.
Suddenly a wolf appeared. He fired and smashed both the wolf's hips.
The wolf was mad with pain and did not see him. "What can I do for
you, dear?" He thought and thought, and then went home and called
Peter.... Peter took a stick, and with an awful grimace, began to beat
the wolf.... He beat and beat and beat until it died.... He broke into
a sweat and went away, without saying a single word.

* * * * *

_Vera_: "I do not respect you, because you married so strangely,
because nothing came of you.... That is why I have secrets from you."

* * * * *

It is unfortunate that we try to solve the simplest questions
cleverly, and therefore make them unusually complicated. We should
seek a simple solution.

* * * * *

There is no Monday which will not give its place to Tuesday.

* * * * *

I am happy and satisfied, sister, but if I were born a second time
and were asked: "Do you want to marry?" I should answer: "No." "Do you
want to have money?" "No...."

* * * * *

Lenstchka liked dukes and counts in novels, not ordinary persons. She
loved the chapters in which there is love, pure and ideal not sensual.
Descriptions of nature she did not like. She preferred conversations
to descriptions. While reading the beginning she would glance
impatiently at the end. She did not remember the names of authors.
She wrote with a pencil in the margins: "Wonderful!" "Beautiful!" or
"Serve him right!"

* * * * *

Lenstchka sang without opening her mouth.

* * * * *

_Post coitum_: We Balderiovs always excelled in vigor and health.

* * * * *

He drove in a cab, and, as he watched his son walking away, thought:
"Perhaps, he belongs to the race of men who will no longer trundle in
scurvy cabs, as I do, but will fly through the skies in balloons."

* * * * *

She is so beautiful that it is even frightening; dark eye-brows.

* * * * *

The son says nothing, but the wife feels him to be an enemy; she feels
that he has overheard everything....

* * * * *

What a lot of idiots there are among ladies. People get so used to it
that they do not notice it.

* * * * *

They often go to the theatre and read serious magazines - and yet are
spiteful and immoral.

* * * * *

_Nat_: "I never have fits of hysterics. I am not a pampered
darling."[1]

[Footnote 1: This and the following few passages are from the rough
draft of Chekhov's play _Three Sisters_.]

* * * * *

_Nat_: (continually to her sisters): "O, how ugly you have grown. O,
how old you do look!"

* * * * *

To live one must have something to hang on to.... In the provinces
only the body works, not the spirit.

* * * * *

You won't become a saint through other people's sins.

* * * * *

_Koulyguin_: "I am a jolly fellow, I infect every one with my mood."

* * * * *

_Koul_. Gives lessons at rich houses.

* * * * *

_Koul_. In Act IV without mustaches.

* * * * *

The wife implores the husband: "Don't get fat."

* * * * *

O if there were a life in which every one grew younger and more
beautiful.

* * * * *

_Irene_: "It is hard to live without a father, without a
mother." - "And without a husband." - "Yes, without a husband. Whom
could one confide in? To whom could one complain? With whom could one
share ones's joy? One must love some one strongly."

* * * * *

_Koulyguin_ (to his wife): "I am so happy to be married to you, that
I consider it ungentlemanly and improper to speak of or even mention a
dowry. Hush, don't say anything...."

* * * * *

The doctor enjoys being at the duel.

* * * * *

It is difficult to live without orderlies. You cannot make the
servants answer your bell.

* * * * *


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