Franz Kafka

Saturday, December 27, 2014

"A Gentleman Friend," by Anton Chekhov, full text, full version, English translation by Constance Garnett, from "The Chorus Girl and other stories," by Anton Chekhov

LiteraryJoint is proud to present the full text edition of "The Chorus Girl and other stories," a collection of short stories by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, many of them not yet very well known by the general public. Every month, we will commit one of our weekly post to these stories, in their English translation by Constance Garnett. After My Life, On the Road, The Chorus Girl, VerotchkaAt a Country House, A Father, Rothschild's Fiddle, Ivan Matveyitch, Zinotchka, and Bad Weather, we now continue with "A Gentleman Friend," which will be followed by "A Trivial Incident."

Portrait of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov,
THE charming Vanda, or, as she was described in her passport, the "Honourable Citizen Nastasya Kanavkinа", found herself, on leaving the hospital, in a position she had never been in before: without a home to go to or a farthing in her pocket. What was she to do?
The first thing she did was to visit a pawn-broker's and pawn her turquoise ring, her one piece of jewellery. They gave her a rouble for the ring . . . but what can you get for a rouble? You can't buy for that sum a fashionable short jacket, nor a big hat, nor a pair of bronze shoes, and without those things she had a feeling of being, as it were, undressed. She felt as though the very horses and dogs were staring and laughing at the plainness of her dress. And clothes were all she thought about: the question what she should eat and where she should sleep did not trouble her in the least.
"If only I could meet a gentleman friend," she thought to herself, "I could get some money. . . . There isn't one who would refuse me, I know. . ."
But no gentleman she knew came her way. It would be easy enough to meet them in the evening at the "Renaissance," but they wouldn't let her in at the "Renaissance" in that shabby dress and with no hat. What was she to do?
After long hesitation, when she was sick of walking and sitting and thinking, Vanda made up her mind to fall back on her last resource: to go straight to the lodgings of some gentleman friend and ask for money.
She pondered which to go to. "Misha is out of the question; he's a married man. . . . The old chap with the red hair will be at his office at this time. . ."
Vanda remembered a dentist, called Finkel, a converted Jew, who six months ago had given her a bracelet, and on whose head she had once emptied a glass of beer at the supper at the German Club. She was awfully pleased at the thought of Finkel.
"He'll be sure to give it me, if only I find him at home," she thought, as she walked in his direction. "If he doesn't, I'll smash all the lamps in the house."
Before she reached the dentist's door she thought out her plan of action: she would run laughing up the stairs, dash into the dentist's room and demand twenty-five roubles. But as she touched the bell, this plan seemed to vanish from her mind of itself. Vanda began suddenly feeling frightened and nervous, which was not at all her way. She was bold and saucy enough at drinking parties, but now, dressed in everyday clothes, feeling herself in the position of an ordinary person asking a favour, who might be refused admittance, she felt suddenly timid and humiliated. She was ashamed and frightened.
"Perhaps he has forgotten me by now," she thought, hardly daring to pull the bell. "And how can I go up to him in such a dress, looking like a beggar or some working girl?"
And she rang the bell irresolutely.
She heard steps coming: it was the porter.
"Is the doctor at home?" she asked.
She would have been glad now if the porter had said "No," but the latter, instead of answering ushered her into the hall, and helped her off with her coat. The staircase impressed her as luxurious, and magnificent, but of all its splendours what caught her eye most was an immense looking-glass, in which she saw a ragged figure without a fashionable jacket, without a big hat, and without bronze shoes. And it seemed strange to Vanda that, now that she was humbly dressed and looked like a laundress or sewing girl, she felt ashamed, and no trace of her usual boldness and sauciness remained, and in her own mind she no longer thought of herself as Vanda, but as the Nastasya Kanavkin she used to be in the old days. . . .

Friday, December 19, 2014

"Settembre a Venezia" by Vincenzo Cardarelli; English version: September in Venice, by Vincenzo Cardarelli, translated in English by LiteraryJoint

Presented below is "Settembre a Venezia" (September in Venice), one of the most well known lyrics by Italian poet Vincenzo Cardarelli (pseudonym of Nazareno Caldarelli, May 1, 1887, June 18, 1959) 

The Grand Canal and the Church of the Salute, by Canaletto, 1730.

September in Venice

Already by September darken
in Venice the precocious sunsets
and the stones dress in mourning.
The sun's last beam is a dart
on the golden mosaics and lights up
fires made of straw, ephemeral beauty.
And quietly, behind the Procuratìe, (*)
meanwhile rises the moon.
The festive and silver lights laugh,
they keep chatting afar with trepidation
in the cool and dark air.
I look at them in fascination.
Perhaps, later on I will remember
these great nights
that are quick to come,
and their lights
that now sink me a bit into despair
(to me, always estrange and distant!)
more beautiful and livelier
will shine back again
in my imagination.
And it will be a true and quiet
happiness mine.
(*) Literally "procuracies,"  they are three connected buildings on St Mark's Square in Venice. They are also connected to St Mark's Clocktower.

From the collection "Poesie," by Vincenzo Cardarelli, 1936.
From "Vincenzo Cardarelli: The Forgotten amongst the Great. A Collection of the Best Poems by Vincenzo Cardarelli, Translated in English," available as e-book on Amazon Kindle, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touchon NOOK Bookon Koboand as printed, traditional edition through Lulu.

Original Version in Italian:

Settembre a Venezia

Già di settembre imbrunano
a Venezia i crepuscoli precoci
e di gramaglie vestono le pietre.
Dardeggia il sole l'ultimo suo raggio
sugli ori dei mosaici ed accende
fuochi di paglia, effimera bellezza.
E cheta, dietro le Procuratìe,
sorge intanto la luna.
Luci festive ed argentate ridono,
van discorrendo trepide e lontane
nell’aria fredda e bruna.
Io le guardo ammaliato.
Forse più tardi mi ricorderò
di queste grandi sere
che son leste a venire,
e più belle, più vive le lor luci,
che ora un po’ mi disperano
(sempre da me così fuori e distanti!)
torneranno a brillare
nella mia fantasia.
E sarà vera e calma
felicità la mia.
Dalla raccolta "Poesie, di Vincenzo Cardarelli, 1936.
da PensieriParole <>

Thursday, December 11, 2014

An Italian Christmas Tale: "L'Inverno e il Re Triste, una Favola." A special gift from LiteraryJoint: free e-book download (Italian)

Front cover of "L'Inverno e il Re Triste, una Favola"

Free download throughout the Holiday Season 2014. Get your free e-book and enjoy!

Alle soglie dell'inverno, al limitare dei suoi giorni, un Re si spinge fin nei meandri del bosco, ove una creatura delle foreste gli confiderà un segreto fuggevole e misterioso...

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Seagulls," by Vincenzo Cardarelli. "Gabbiani," a poem by Vincenzo Cardarelli, translated in English by LiteraryJoint

Presented below is "Seagulls" (Gabbiani), one of the most well known lyrics by Italian poet Vincenzo Cardarelli (pseudonym of Nazareno Caldarelli, May 1, 1887 - June 18, 1959.)

A picture of poet Vincenzo Cardarelli


I know not where seagulls make their nest
where find they peace.
I am like them
in perpetual flight. 
I skim life
like they do with the water catching food.
And perhaps like them too, I cherish quietness,
the great quietness of the sea,
but my fate is to live
wavering in the gale.

by Vincenzo Cardarelli, from the collection "Poesie", 1942. 
From "Vincenzo Cardarelli: The Forgotten amongst the Great. A Collection of the Best Poems by Vincenzo Cardarelli, Translated in English," available as e-book on Amazon Kindle, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touchon NOOK Bookon Koboand as printed, traditional edition through Lulu.

Original version in Italian:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Bad Weather," by Anton Chekhov, full text, full version, English translation by Constance Garnett, from "The Chorus Girl and other stories," by Anton Chekhov

LiteraryJoint is proud to present the full text edition of "The Chorus Girl and other stories," a collection of short stories by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, many of them not yet very well known by the general public. Every month, we will commit one of our weekly post to these stories, in their English translation by Constance Garnett. After My Life, On the Road, The Chorus Girl, VerotchkaAt a Country House, A Father, Rothschild's Fiddle, Ivan Matveyitch, and Zinotchka , "we now continue with "Bad Weather," which will be followed by: A Gentleman Friend and A Trivial Incident.

Ships in Distress in a Heavy Storm, or The man-of-war ‘Ridderschap and Hollandia on the rocks during a storm in the Strait of Gibraltar, by Ludolf Bakhuizen, circa 1690, oil on canvas, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

BIG raindrops were pattering on the dark windows. It was one of those disgusting summer holiday rains which, when they have begun, last a long time—for weeks, till the frozen holiday maker grows used to it, and sinks into complete apathy. It was cold; there was a feeling of raw, unpleasant dampness. The mother-in-law of a lawyer, called Kvashin, and his wife, Nadyezhda Filippovna, dressed in waterproofs and shawls, were sitting over the dinner table in the dining-room. It was written on the countenance of the elder lady that she was, thank God, well-fed, well-clothed and in good health, that she had married her only daughter to a good man, and now could play her game of patience with an easy conscience; her daughter, a rather short, plump, fair young woman of twenty, with a gentle anemic face, was reading a book with her elbows on the table; judging from her eyes she was not so much reading as thinking her own thoughts, which were not in the book. Neither of them spoke. There was the sound of the pattering rain, and from the kitchen they could hear the prolonged yawns of the cook.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A few words on "A Late Walk" by Robert Frost, with a version in Italian, translated by LiteraryJoint.

"A Late Walk" carries all of the signs of Robert Frost's symbolism, as the reminiscence of a life that is dwindling is brought to the dimming light of dusk.
    In the last days of Fall, the farmer-poet returns home crossing the "mowing fields." Harvest is done, life almost accomplished, and what is left to see resembles the aftermath of an ancient battle: the headless "aftermath", which also refers to the second, or last haying of the year.
    All around, the entire Nature is seemingly mourning, for the poet forebodes where its path is actually leading him to. Yet, love endures and lives on, and has the power to take a man through the secluded, lonely walls, to allow him into the inner garden - the house comforted by warmth -, and re-encounter each other again, in this life and in its aftermath.

Robert Frost's "A Boy's Will", cover of a 1915 edition, Publisher: Henry Holt

A Late Walk

When I go up through the mowing field,
The headless aftermath,
Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
Half closes the garden path.

And when I come to the garden ground,
The whir of sober birds
Up from the tangle of withered weeds
Is sadder than any words.

A tree beside the wall stands bare,
But a leaf that lingered brown,
Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
Comes softly rattling down.

I end not far from my going forth
By picking the faded blue
Of the last remaining aster flower
To carry again to you.

By Robert Frost, from the collection "A Boy's Will", 1913

An Italian version:

A Late Walk (Una camminata sul tardi)

Quando risalgo traverso il campo falciato,
Quel che resta, mozzato dall'ultima fienagione,
Giace liscio come un tetto di paglia carico di rugiada,
Quasi chiude il sentiero dell'orto.
E quando giungo al quadro di terra,
Il sobrio fremere d'ali dei passeri
Che sale dal groviglio di erbe rinsecchite
E' più triste di qualunque parola.

Un albero accanto al muro si erge nudo,
Ma una foglia imbrunita che vi era ancora sospesa,
Disturbata, non dubito, dai miei pensieri,
Con un crepitio cade leggera.

Dal mio procedere mi scosto poco lontano
Cogliendo il blu ormai tenue
Dell'ultimo fiore d'astro che resta
Per portarlo ancora a te.

Robert Frost, dalla raccolta "A Boy's Will", 1913. Traduzione in Italiano a cura di Literary Joint.

Monday, November 10, 2014

"Anxiety," a Poem from the Collection "Midnight 30, American Poems"

Anxiety, by Edvard Munch, 1894, Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway


Thus, I had a recollection
That we were as good as dead already
Dwelling in our seething megalopolis
Suffocating as we gasped for a breath
Going crazy with the noise
Unbearably crisscrossing paths and streets
Teeming with beings and desires.

Death, grim death,
Was all over us like mushroom clouds
Inexplicably holding us down
The fierce claw of the eagle
Clutching our thumbing limbs
Beating the living hell out of a body
Relentlessly and unforgivably.

Though I knew not the word that opened up
The way, yet I sought for salvation as
The brooding, tarred sky closed down upon the earth
The galaxies ripped open and the cold stars blinked
Thus, I had a recollection
That immortal was all
That never lived and never will.

From the Collection "Midnight 30, American Poems," by A. Baruffi,  published by LiteraryJoint Press, available as e-book on Amazon Kindle, iBookstore, NOOK Book, Kobo, and Lulu.

Midnight thirty: half-hour past "Geisterstunde," as it is still called in the broody hillsides hamlets of inner, rural Pennsylvania. In the deep stillness of the night, the tongue is loose, the eye quick, the ear alert, and the mind finally conducive to grasp all that in daylight is hidden. It is only at that time that truth is said, or whispered...
"In this surprising work of modern American literature, like a shimmering, wild creek under the full moonlight, the vein of poetry taps into the inexhaustible resources and riches of the land, and runs with inspiration and wisdom..."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

O Caminho do Mar, a short Poem (Portuguese) inspired by Jorge Amado's novel Jubiabá (1935)

A cover of Jorge Amado's novel, Jubiabá, 1935.
"Lembra-se de Viriato, o anão, que um dia entrou pelo caminho do mar, como aquele outro velho que foi retirado da água numa noite em que os homens do cais carregavam um navio sueco. Será que Viriato encontrou sua casa?"

Jorge Amado, Jubiabá, 1935

O Caminho do Mar

No brilho da noite sem fim,
fria e cruzada de estrelas,
atirei-me, entrando
pelo caminho do mar.

Só foram a me encontrar
as mudas gaivotas operosas,
correndo-se atrás, em vão,
sob os céus purpúreos.

Barcelona, October 2014
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Saturday, November 1, 2014

"Non recidere, forbice, quel volto" by Eugenio Montale, translated in English (English version by LiteraryJoint), "Do not chop away, shears, that face" by Eugenio Montale

Edvard Munch, Lady from the sea, 1896,  Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA

"Montale's Essential: The Poems of Eugenio Montale in English," published by LiteraryJoint Press, 2017, available on Amazon and Kobo.

Do not chop away, shears, that face

Do not chop away, shears, that face,
alone in the mind that is dispersing,
do not turn her big, listening face
into my fog of always.

A chill comes down... The hard blow snaps
and the wounded acacia shakes off 
the cicada's husk
in the first slime of November.  

By Eugenio Montale, from the collection "Le Occasioni", 1939.
Version in English translated by LiteraryJoint.

Original Italian version:

Non recidere, forbice, quel volto

Non recidere, forbice, quel volto,
solo nella memoria che si sfolla,
non far del grande suo viso in ascolto
la mia nebbia di sempre.

Un freddo cala... Duro il colpo svetta.
E l'acacia ferita da sé scrolla 
il guscio di cicala
nella prima belletta di Novembre.

Eugenio Montale,  dalla raccolta"Le Occasioni", 1939.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Zinotchka," by Anton Chekhov, full text, full version, English translation by Constance Garnett, from "The Chorus Girl and other stories," by Anton Chekhov

LiteraryJoint is proud to present the full text edition of "The Chorus Girl and other stories," a collection of short stories by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, many of them not yet very well known by the general public. Every month, we will commit one of our weekly post to these stories, in their English translation by Constance Garnett. After My Life, On the Road, The Chorus Girl, VerotchkaAt a Country House, A Father, Rothschild's Fiddle, and Ivan Matveyitch,"we now continue with "Zinotchka," which will be followed by: Bad Weather, A Gentleman Friend, and A Trivial Incident.

  The Rooks Have Come Back, by Alexei Savrasov, 1871

THE party of sportsmen spent the night in a peasant's hut on some newly mown hay. The moon peeped in at the window; from the street came the mournful wheezing of a concertina; from the hay came a sickly sweet, faintly troubling scent. The sportsmen talked about dogs, about women, about first love, and about snipe. After all the ladies of their acquaintance had been picked to pieces, and hundreds of stories had been told, the stoutest of the sportsmen, who looked in the darkness like a haycock, and who talked in the mellow bass of a staff officer, gave a loud yawn and said:
"It is nothing much to be loved; the ladies are created for the purpose of loving us men. But, tell me, has any one of you fellows been hated—passionately, furiously hated? Has any one of you watched the ecstasies of hatred? Eh?"
No answer followed.
"Has no one, gentlemen?" asked the staff officer's bass voice. "But I, now, have been hated, hated by a pretty girl, and have been able to study the symptoms of first hatred directed against myself. It was the first, because it was something exactly the converse of first love. What I am going to tell, however, happened when I knew nothing about love or hate. I was eight at the time, but that made no difference; in this case it was not he but she that mattered. Well, I beg your attention. One fine summer evening, just before sunset, I was sitting in the nursery, doing my lesson with my governess, Zinotchka, a very charming and poetical creature who had left boarding school not long before. Zinotchka looked absent-mindedly towards the window and said:
"'Yes. We breathe in oxygen; now tell me, Petya, what do we breathe out?'
"'Carbonic acid gas,' I answered, looking towards the same window.
"'Right,' assented Zinotchka. 'Plants, on the contrary, breathe in carbonic acid gas, and breathe out oxygen. Carbonic acid gas is contained in seltzer water, and in the fumes from the samovar. . . . It is a very noxious gas. Near Naples there is the so-called Cave of Dogs, which contains carbonic acid gas; a dog dropped into it is suffocated and dies.'
"This luckless Cave of Dogs near Naples is a chemical marvel beyond which no governess ventures to go. Zinotchka always hotly maintained the usefulness of natural science, but I doubt if she knew any chemistry beyond this Cave.
"Well, she told me to repeat it. I repeated it. She asked me what was meant by the horizon. I answered. And meantime, while we were ruminating over the horizon and the Cave, in the yard below, my father was just getting ready to go shooting. The dogs yapped, the trace horses shifted from one leg to another impatiently and coquetted with the coachman, the footman packed the waggonette with parcels and all sorts of things. Beside the waggonette stood a brake in which my mother and sisters were sitting to drive to a name-day party at the Ivanetskys'. No one was left in the house but Zinotchka, me, and my eldest brother, a student, who had toothache. You can imagine my envy and my boredom.
"'Well, what do we breathe in?' asked Zinotchka, looking at the window.
"'Oxygen. . .'
"'Yes. And the horizon is the name given to the place where it seems to us as though the earth meets the sky.'

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A few words on "Digging" from "Death of a Naturalist", by Seamus Heaney, with a translation in Italian (Italian version by LiteraryJoint)

Digger in a Potato Field: Nuenen, Februari - July 1885, Vincent van Gogh,  chalk on paper, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

    Robert Lowell wasn't certainly far off, when he referred to Seamus Heaney, 1995 Nobel Prize laureate , as "the greatest Irish poet since Yeats."
Recalling his time in Belfast, talking about his childhood, Heaney once noted: "I learned that my local County Derry experience, which I had considered archaic and irrelevant to 'the modern world' was to be trusted. They taught me that trust and helped me to articulate it." 
    As a young poet, Heaney was painfully aware of the gaping distance between the world of language and literature, and the psychical, rural world that he encountered around him: a dichotomy between his own roots, the parochial and peasant life, and the gifts of poetry and education that progressively seemed to pull him away from his background. This sense of exclusion is magnificently rendered in his poem 'Digging', that we present below in its original 1966 version, followed by a version in Italian, translated by LiteraryJoint.
    In "Digging", from Heaney's debut collection "Death of a Naturalist," a powerful juxtaposition is rendered: two marvelous tools, the pen and the spade, both working their own way deeply, to unearth hidden treasures awaiting to be brought to light.


Between my finger and my thumb   
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound   
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:   
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds   
Bends low, comes up twenty years away   
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills   
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft   
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.   
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
 I’ll dig with it.

"Digging" from Death of a Naturalist," 1966 by Seamus Heaney.
Following is a version in Italian, translated by LiteraryJoint.

Friday, October 3, 2014

"Ivan Matveyitch," by Anton Chekhov, full text, full version, English translation by Constance Garnett, from "The Chorus Girl and other stories," by Anton Chekhov

LiteraryJoint is proud to present the full text edition of "The Chorus Girl and other stories," a collection of short stories by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, many of them not yet very well known by the general public. Every month, we will commit one of our weekly post to these stories, in their English translation by Constance Garnett. After My Life, On the Road, The Chorus Girl, VerotchkaAt a Country House, A Father, and Rothschild's Fiddle we now continue with "Ivan Matveyitch," which will be followed by: Zinotchka,  Bad Weather, A Gentleman Friend, and A Trivial Incident.

Anton Chekhov and his wife Olga, on their honeymoon, 1901

Ivan Matveyitch

BETWEEN five and six in the evening. A fairly well-known man of learning--we will call him simply the man of learning--is sitting in his study nervously biting his nails.
"It's positively revolting," he says, continually looking at his watch. "It shows the utmost disrespect for another man's time and work. In England such a person would not earn a farthing, he would die of hunger. You wait a minute, when you do come . . . ."
And feeling a craving to vent his wrath and impatience upon someone, the man of learning goes to the door leading to his wife's room and knocks.
"Listen, Katya," he says in an indignant voice. "If you see Pyotr Danilitch, tell him that decent people don't do such things. It's abominable! He recommends a secretary, and does not know the sort of man he is recommending! The wretched boy is two or three hours late with unfailing regularity every day. Do you call that a secretary? Those two or three hours are more precious to me than two or three years to other people. When he does come I will swear at him like a dog, and won't pay him and will kick him out. It's no use standing on ceremony with people like that!"
"You say that every day, and yet he goes on coming and coming."
"But to-day I have made up my mind. I have lost enough through him. You must excuse me, but I shall swear at him like a cabman."
At last a ring is heard. The man of learning makes a grave face; drawing himself up, and, throwing back his head, he goes into the entry. There his amanuensis Ivan Matveyitch, a young man of eighteen, with a face oval as an egg and no moustache, wearing a shabby, mangy overcoat and no goloshes, is already standing by the hatstand. He is in breathless haste, and scrupulously wipes his huge clumsy boots on the doormat, trying as he does so to conceal from the maidservant a hole in his boot through which a white sock is peeping. Seeing the man of learning he smiles with that broad, prolonged, somewhat foolish smile which is seen only on the faces of children or very good-natured people.
"Ah, good evening!" he says, holding out a big wet hand. "Has your sore throat gone?"
"Ivan Matveyitch," says the man of learning in a shaking voice, stepping back and clasping his hands together. "Ivan Matveyitch."
Then he dashes up to the amanuensis, clutches him by the shoulders, and begins feebly shaking him.
"What a way to treat me!" he says with despair in his voice. "You dreadful, horrid fellow, what a way to treat me! Are you laughing at me, are you jeering at me? Eh?"
Judging from the smile which still lingered on his face Ivan Matveyitch had expected a very different reception, and so, seeing the man of learning's countenance eloquent of indignation, his oval face grows longer than ever, and he opens his mouth in amazement.
"What is . . . what is it?" he asks.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A few words on "A Time to Talk", by Robert Frost, and an Italian version

In this upbeat short poem by Robert Frost, a peasant is rendered as he works in his fields, the very moment he realizes how stopping his work to talk to a friend is more essential than keep on working doggedly to complete his hoeing for the day. This is a small, crucial lesson that we shall learn and  apply to our busy lives, even more so in today's society that often demands that we tread the wheel, like hamsters, in order to make a small living.

Rober Frost, 1941, picture by Fred Palumbo, World Telegram staff photographer, Source: Library of Congress.    

A Time to talk

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit. 

From "Mountain Interval",  1920.
Following is a version in Italian, by LiteraryJoint

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"Rothschild's Fiddle," by Anton Chekhov, full text, full version, English translation by Constance Garnett, from "The Chorus Girl and other stories," by Anton Chekhov

LiteraryJoint is proud to present the full text edition of "The Chorus Girl and other stories," a collection of short stories by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, many of them not yet very well known by the general public. Every month, we will commit one of our weekly post to these stories, in their English translation by Constance Garnett. After My Life, On the Road, The Chorus Girl, VerotchkaAt a Country House, and A Father, we now continue with "Rothschild's Fiddle," which will be followed by: Ivan Matveyitch, Zinotchka,  Bad Weather, A Gentleman Friend, and A Trivial Incident.

Lake. Russia, 1900. The last, unfinished painting, by Isaac Ilyich Levitan (Russian: Исаа́к Ильи́ч Левита́н)

THE town was a little one, worse than a village, and it was inhabited by scarcely any but old people who died with an infrequency that was really annoying. In the hospital and in the prison fortress very few coffins were needed. In fact business was bad. If Yakov Ivanov had been an undertaker in the chief town of the province he would certainly have had a house of his own, and people would have addressed him as Yakov Matveyitch; here in this wretched little town people called him simply Yakov; his nickname in the street was for some reason Bronze, and he lived in a poor way like a humble peasant, in a little old hut in which there was only one room, and in this room he and Marfa, the stove, a double bed, the coffins, his bench, and all their belongings were crowded together.
Yakov made good, solid coffins. For peasants and working people he made them to fit himself, and this was never unsuccessful, for there were none taller and stronger than he, even in the prison, though he was seventy. For gentry and for women he made them to measure, and used an iron foot-rule for the purpose. He was very unwilling to take orders for children's coffins, and made them straight off without measurements, contemptuously, and when he was paid for the work he always said:
"I must confess I don't like trumpery jobs."
Apart from his trade, playing the fiddle brought him in a small income.
The Jews' orchestra conducted by Moisey Ilyitch Shahkes, the tinsmith, who took more than half their receipts for himself, played as a rule at weddings in the town. As Yakov played very well on the fiddle, especially Russian songs, Shahkes sometimes invited him to join the orchestra at a fee of half a rouble a day, in addition to tips from the visitors. When Bronze sat in the orchestra first of all his face became crimson and perspiring; it was hot, there was a suffocating smell of garlic, the fiddle squeaked, the double bass wheezed close to his right ear, while the flute wailed at his left, played by a gaunt, red-haired Jew who had a perfect network of red and blue veins all over his face, and who bore the name of the famous millionaire Rothschild. And this accursed Jew contrived to play even the liveliest things plaintively. For no apparent reason Yakov little by little became possessed by hatred and contempt for the Jews, and especially for Rothschild; he began to pick quarrels with him, rail at him in unseemly language and once even tried to strike him, and Rothschild was offended and said, looking at him ferociously:
"If it were not that I respect you for your talent, I would have sent you flying out of the window."
Then he began to weep. And because of this Yakov was not often asked to play in the orchestra; he was only sent for in case of extreme necessity in the absence of one of the Jews.

Monday, September 1, 2014

"A Father," by Anton Chekhov, full text, full version, English translation by Constance Garnett, from "The Chorus Girl and other stories," by Anton Chekhov

LiteraryJoint is proud to present the full text edition of "The Chorus Girl and other stories," a collection of short stories by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, many of them not yet very well known by the general public. Every month, we will commit one of our weekly post to these stories, in their English translation by Constance Garnett. After My Life, On the Road, The Chorus Girl, Verotchka, and At a Country House, we now continue with "A Father," which will be followed by: Rothschild's Fiddle, Ivan Matveyitch, Zinotchka,  Bad Weather, A Gentleman Friend, and A Trivial Incident.

USSR - A Stamp celebrating Anton Chekhov

"I ADMIT I have had a drop. . . . You must excuse me. I went into a beer shop on the way here, and as it was so hot I had a couple of bottles. It's hot, my boy."
Old Musatov took a nondescript rag out of his pocket and wiped his shaven, battered face with it.
"I have come only for a minute, Borenka, my angel," he went on, not looking at his son, "about something very important. Excuse me, perhaps I am hindering you. Haven't you ten roubles, my dear, you could let me have till Tuesday? You see, I ought to have paid for my lodging yesterday, and money, you see! . . . None! Not to save my life!"
Young Musatov went out without a word, and began whispering the other side of the door with the landlady of the summer villa and his colleagues who had taken the villa with him. Three minutes later he came back, and without a word gave his father a ten-rouble note. The latter thrust it carelessly into his pocket without looking at it, and said:
"Merci. Well, how are you getting on? It's a long time since we met."
"Yes, a long time, not since Easter."
"Half a dozen times I have been meaning to come to you, but I've never had time. First one thing, then another. . . . It's simply awful! I am talking nonsense though. . . . All that's nonsense. Don't you believe me, Borenka. I said I would pay you back the ten roubles on Tuesday, don't believe that either. Don't believe a word I say. I have nothing to do at all, it's simply laziness, drunkenness, and I am ashamed to be seen in such clothes in the street. You must excuse me, Borenka. Here I have sent the girl to you three times for money and written you piteous letters. Thanks for the money, but don't believe the letters; I was telling fibs. I am ashamed to rob you, my angel; I know that you can scarcely make both ends meet yourself, and feed on locusts, but my impudence is too much for me. I am such a specimen of impudence—fit for a show! . . . You must excuse me, Borenka. I tell you the truth, because I can't see your angel face without emotion."
A minute passed in silence. The old man heaved a deep sigh and said:
"You might treat me to a glass of beer perhaps."
His son went out without a word, and again there was a sound of whispering the other side of the door. When a little later the beer was brought in, the old man seemed to revive at the sight of the bottles and abruptly changed his tone.
"I was at the races the other day, my boy," he began telling him, assuming a scared expression. "We were a party of three, and we pooled three roubles on Frisky. And, thanks to that Frisky, we got thirty-two roubles each for our rouble. I can't get on without the races, my boy. It's a gentlemanly diversion. My virago always gives me a dressing over the races, but I go. I love it, and that's all about it."
Boris, a fair-haired young man with a melancholy immobile face, was walking slowly up and down, listening in silence. When the old man stopped to clear his throat, he went up to him and said:
"I bought myself a pair of boots the other day, father, which turn out to be too tight for me. Won't you take them? I'll let you have them cheap."
"If you like," said the old man with a grimace, "only for the price you gave for them, without any cheapening."
"Very well, I'll let you have them on credit."
The son groped under the bed and produced the new boots. The father took off his clumsy, rusty, evidently second-hand boots and began trying on the new ones.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

"Garden State Moon," a Poem from the collection Jersey Blues

Régis François Gignoux, View Near Elizabethtown, N. J., 1847 Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Garden State Moon

The moon in Jersey
is not nearly as sparkly 
as on the wide shimmering sea,
or upon wild, vast prairies:
it is a pale circle,
in the steamy air,
you can barely see
through the foliage of a half
bare, scrawny tree...

This is in an excerpt from the Poem "Garden State Moon," from the collection "Jersey Blues: Selected Poems", also available on iBookstore, NOOK Book, and Amazon Kindle.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Il Carceriere," an excerpt from the short stories collection "24 Racconti" (Italian Literature)

Prisoners Exercising, (aka Prisoners' Round, German: Die Runde der Gefangenen) by Vincent van Gogh, 1890, oil on canvas, The Pushkin Museum of Fine Art

Andarono tre giorni, e gli disse: ”Oh, re del tempo e sostanza e cifra del secolo! In Babilonia mi volesti perdere in un labirinto di bronzo con molte scale, porte e muri; ora l’Onnipotente ha voluto ch’io ti mostrassi il mio dove non ci sono scale da salire, né porte da forzare, né faticosi corridoi da percorrere, né muri che ti vietano il passo.”
    Poi gli sciolse i legami e lo abbandonò in mezzo al deserto, dove quegli morì di fame e di sete. La gloria sia con Colui che non muore.”

J.L. Borges, “I due re e i due labirinti”

La mia cella misura tre metri per quattro, la luce vi entra solamente di sbieco da una feritoia alta nel muro che dà a mezzogiorno; sul lato opposto è un vano, con un materasso per giaciglio. Gran parte del tempo lo passo coricato e i miei giorni non sarebbero così malvagi se solo la coperta di lana non fosse così ruvida e il pagliericcio tanto umido. Anche così non mi lamento, chè in fondo la mia pena è poca cosa innanzi all’entità della mia colpa.
Null’altro mi manca, salvo forse il tepore di una donna, il pranzo della domenica, il luccichìo del mare o di qualche tramonto.
A ben considerarla, codesta attuale esistenza presenta vantaggi non trascurabili: nulla mi si chiede, nulla ci si aspetta da me, né io pretendo né chiedo nulla a me stesso o a chichessia. Se osservo la mia vita, essa non è fondamentalmente dissimile da quella degli altri uomini che risiedono fuori da questo anfratto buio e angusto.
Quando vi varcai la soglia, da principio, mi parve lungamente di impazzire. Ricordo la prima estenuante estate interminabile: i minuti pesavano come ore, le ore come giorni; in quel tempo ancora anelavo stupidamente la libertà...
The story is part of the collection "24 Racconti", available both in printed paperback edition
and Amazon Kindle.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

"At a Country House", by Anton Chekhov, full text, full version, English translation by Constance Garnett, from "The Chorus Girl and other stories," by Anton Chekhov

LiteraryJoint is proud to present the full text edition of "The Chorus Girl and other stories," a collection of short stories by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, many of them not yet very well known by the general public. Every month, we will commit one of our weekly post to these stories, in their English translation by Constance Garnett. After My Life, On the Road, The Chorus Girl, and Verotchka, we now continue with "At a Country House", which will be followed by: A Father, Rothschild's Fiddle, Ivan Matveyitch, Zinotchka,  Bad Weather, A Gentleman Friend, and A Trivial Incident.

Anton Chekhov's Birth House;  born on the Holiday of St.  Anthony the Great (17 January Old Style) 29 January 1860
PAVEL ILYITCH RASHEVITCH walked up and down, stepping softly on the floor covered with little Russian plaids, and casting a long shadow on the wall and ceiling while his guest, Meier, the deputy examining magistrate, sat on the sofa with one leg drawn up under him smoking and listening. The clock already pointed to eleven, and there were sounds of the table being laid in the room next to the study.
"Say what you like," Rashevitch was saying, "from the standpoint of fraternity, equality, and the rest of it, Mitka, the swineherd, is perhaps a man the same as Goethe and Frederick the Great; but take your stand on a scientific basis, have the courage to look facts in the face, and it will be obvious to you that blue blood is not a mere prejudice, that it is not a feminine invention. Blue blood, my dear fellow, has an historical justification, and to refuse to recognize it is, to my thinking, as strange as to refuse to recognize the antlers on a stag. One must reckon with facts! You are a law student and have confined your attention to the humane studies, and you can still flatter yourself with illusions of equality, fraternity, and so on; I am an incorrigible Darwinian, and for me words such as lineage, aristocracy, noble blood, are not empty sounds."
Rashevitch was roused and spoke with feeling. His eyes sparkled, his pince-nez would not stay on his nose, he kept nervously shrugging his shoulders and blinking, and at the word "Darwinian" he looked jauntily in the looking-glass and combed his grey beard with both hands. He was wearing a very short and shabby reefer jacket and narrow trousers; the rapidity of his movements, his jaunty air, and his abbreviated jacket all seemed out of keeping with him, and his big comely head, with long hair suggestive of a bishop or a veteran poet, seemed to have been fixed on to the body of a tall, lanky, affected youth. When he stood with his legs wide apart, his long shadow looked like a pair of scissors.
He was fond of talking, and he always fancied that he was saying something new and original. In the presence of Meier he was conscious of an unusual flow of spirits and rush of ideas. He found the examining magistrate sympathetic, and was stimulated by his youth, his health, his good manners, his dignity, and, above all, by his cordial attitude to himself and his family. Rashevitch was not a favourite with his acquaintances; as a rule they fought shy of him, and, as he knew, declared that he had driven his wife into her grave with his talking, and they called him, behind his back, a spiteful creature and a toad. Meier, a man new to the district and unprejudiced, visited him often and readily and had even been known to say that Rashevitch and his daughters were the only people in the district with whom he felt as much at home as with his own people. Rashevitch liked him too, because he was a young man who might be a good match for his elder daughter, Genya.
And now, enjoying his ideas and the sound of his own voice, and looking with pleasure at the plump but well-proportioned, neatly cropped, correct Meier, Rashevitch dreamed of how he would arrange his daughter's marriage with a good man, and then how all his worries over the estate would pass to his son-in-law. Hateful worries! The interest owing to the bank had not been paid for the last two quarters, and fines and arrears of all sorts had mounted up to more than two thousand.
"To my mind there can be no doubt," Rashevitch went on, growing more and more enthusiastic, "that if a Richard Coeur-de-Lion, or Frederick Barbarossa, for instance, is brave and noble those qualities will pass by heredity to his son, together with the convolutions and bumps of the brain, and if that courage and nobility of soul are preserved in the son by means of education and exercise, and if he marries a princess who is also noble and brave, those qualities will be transmitted to his grandson, and so on, until they become a generic characteristic and pass organically into the flesh and blood. Thanks to a strict sexual selection, to the fact that high-born families have instinctively guarded themselves against marriage with their inferiors, and young men of high rank have not married just anybody, lofty, spiritual qualities have been transmitted from generation to generation in their full purity, have been preserved, and as time goes on have, through exercise, become more exalted and lofty. For the fact that there is good in humanity we are indebted to nature, to the normal, natural, consistent order of things, which has throughout the ages scrupulously segregated blue blood from plebeian. Yes, my dear boy, no low lout, no cook's son has given us literature, science, art, law, conceptions of honour and duty . . . . For all these things mankind is indebted exclusively to the aristocracy, and from that point of view, the point of view of natural history, an inferior Sobakevitch by the very fact of his blue blood is superior and more useful than the very best merchant, even though the latter may have built fifteen museums. Say what you like! And when I refuse to shake hands with a low lout or a cook's son, or to let him sit down to table with me, by that very act I am safeguarding what is the best thing on earth, and am carrying out one of Mother Nature's finest designs for leading us up to perfection. . ."
Rashevitch stood still, combing his beard with both hands; his shadow, too, stood still on the wall, looking like a pair of scissors.
"Take Mother-Russia now," he went on, thrusting his hands in his pockets and standing first on his heels and then on his toes. "Who are her best people? Take our first-rate painters, writers, composers . . . . Who are they? They were all of aristocratic origin. Pushkin, Lermontov, Turgenev, Gontcharov, Tolstoy, they were not sexton's children."
"Gontcharov was a merchant," said Meier.
"Well, the exception only proves the rule. Besides, Gontcharov's genius is quite open to dispute. But let us drop names and turn to facts. What would you say, my good sir, for instance, to this eloquent fact: when one of the mob forces his way where he has not been permitted before, into society, into the world of learning, of literature, into the Zemstvo or the law courts, observe, Nature herself, first of all, champions the higher rights of humanity, and is the first to wage war on the rabble. As soon as the plebeian forces himself into a place he is not fit for he begins to ail, to go into consumption, to go out of his mind, and to degenerate, and nowhere do we find so many puny, neurotic wrecks, consumptives, and starvelings of all sorts as among these darlings. They die like flies in autumn. If it were not for this providential degeneration there would not have been a stone left standing of our civilization, the rabble would have demolished everything. Tell me, if you please, what has the inroad of the barbarians given us so far? What has the rabble brought with it?" Rashevitch assumed a mysterious, frightened expression, and went on: "Never has literature and learning been at such low ebb among us as now. The men of to-day, my good sir, have neither ideas nor ideals, and all their sayings and doings are permeated by one spirit--to get all they can and to strip someone to his last thread. All these men of to-day who give themselves out as honest and progressive people can be bought at a rouble a piece, and the distinguishing mark of the 'intellectual' of to-day is that you have to keep strict watch over your pocket when you talk to him, or else he will run off with your purse." Rashevitch winked and burst out laughing. "Upon my soul, he will! he said, in a thin, gleeful voice. "And morals! What of their morals?" Rashevitch looked round towards the door. "No one is surprised nowadays when a wife robs and leaves her husband. What's that, a trifle! Nowadays, my dear boy, a chit of a girl of twelve is scheming to get a lover, and all these amateur theatricals and literary evenings are only invented to make it easier to get a rich merchant to take a girl on as his mistress. . . . Mothers sell their daughters, and people make no bones about asking a husband at what price he sells his wife, and one can haggle over the bargain, you know, my dear. . . ."
Meier, who had been sitting motionless and silent all the time, suddenly got up from the sofa and looked at his watch.
"I beg your pardon, Pavel Ilyitch," he said, "it is time for me to be going."
But Pavel Ilyitch, who had not finished his remarks, put his arm round him and, forcibly reseating him on the sofa, vowed that he would not let him go without supper. And again Meier sat and listened, but he looked at Rashevitch with perplexity and uneasiness, as though he were only now beginning to understand him. Patches of red came into his face. And when at last a maidservant came in to tell them that the young ladies asked them to go to supper, he gave a sigh of relief and was the first to walk out of the study.
At the table in the next room were Rashevitch's daughters, Genya and Iraida, girls of four-and-twenty and two-and-twenty respectively, both very pale, with black eyes, and exactly the same height. Genya had her hair down, and Iraida had hers done up high on her head. Before eating anything they each drank a wineglassful of bitter liqueur, with an air as though they had drunk it by accident for the first time in their lives and both were overcome with confusion and burst out laughing.
"Don't be naughty, girls," said Rashevitch.
Genya and Iraida talked French with each other, and Russian with their father and their visitor. Interrupting one another, and mixing up French words with Russian, they began rapidly describing how just at this time in August, in previous years, they had set off to the hoarding school and what fun it had been. Now there was nowhere to go, and they had to stay at their home in the country, summer and winter without change. Such dreariness!
"Don't be naughty, girls," Rashevitch said again.
He wanted to be talking himself. If other people talked in his presence, he suffered from a feeling like jealousy.
"So that's how it is, my dear boy," he began, looking affectionately at Meier. "In the simplicity and goodness of our hearts, and from fear of being suspected of being behind the times, we fraternize with, excuse me, all sorts of riff-raff, we preach fraternity and equality with money-lenders and innkeepers; but if we would only think, we should see how criminal that good-nature is. We have brought things to such a pass, that the fate of civilization is hanging on a hair. My dear fellow, what our forefathers gained in the course of ages will be to-morrow, if not to-day, outraged and destroyed by these modern Huns. . . ."
After supper they all went into the drawing-room. Genya and Iraida lighted the candles on the piano, got out their music. . . . But their father still went on talking, and there was no telling when he would leave off. They looked with misery and vexation at their egoist-father, to whom the pleasure of chattering and displaying his intelligence was evidently more precious and important than his daughters' happiness. Meier, the only young man who ever came to their house, came--they knew--for the sake of their charming, feminine society, but the irrepressible old man had taken possession of him, and would not let him move a step away.
"Just as the knights of the west repelled the invasions of the Mongols, so we, before it is too late, ought to unite and strike together against our foe," Rashevitch went on in the tone of a preacher, holding up his right hand. "May I appear to the riff-raff not as Pavel Ilyitch, but as a mighty, menacing Richard Coeur-de-Lion. Let us give up sloppy sentimentality; enough of it! Let us all make a compact, that as soon as a plebeian comes near us we fling some careless phrase straight in his ugly face: 'Paws off! Go back to your kennel, you cur!' straight in his ugly face," Rashevitch went on gleefully, flicking his crooked finger in front of him. "In his ugly face!"
"I can't do that," Meier brought out, turning away.
"Why not?" Rashevitch answered briskly, anticipating a prolonged and interesting argument. "Why not?"
"Because I am of the artisan class myself!"
As he said this Meier turned crimson, and his neck seemed to swell, and tears actually gleamed in his eyes.
"My father was a simple workman," he said, in a rough, jerky voice, "but I see no harm in that."
Rashevitch was fearfully confused. Dumbfoundered, as though he had been caught in the act of a crime, he gazed helplessly at Meier, and did not know what to say. Genya and Iraida flushed crimson, and bent over their music; they were ashamed of their tactless father. A minute passed in silence, and there was a feeling of unbearable discomfort, when all at once with a sort of painful stiffness and inappropriateness, there sounded in the air the words:
"Yes, I am of the artisan class, and I am proud of it!"
Thereupon Meier, stumbling awkwardly among the furniture, took his leave, and walked rapidly into the hall, though his carriage was not yet at the door.
"You'll have a dark drive to-night," Rashevitch muttered, following him. "The moon does not rise till late to-night."
They stood together on the steps in the dark, and waited for the horses to be brought. It was cool.
"There's a falling star," said Meier, wrapping himself in his overcoat.
"There are a great many in August."
When the horses were at the door, Rashevitch gazed intently at the sky, and said with a sigh:
"A phenomenon worthy of the pen of Flammarion. . . ."
After seeing his visitor off, he walked up and down the garden, gesticulating in the darkness, reluctant to believe that such a queer, stupid misunderstanding had only just occurred. He was ashamed and vexed with himself. In the first place it had been extremely incautious and tactless on his part to raise the damnable subject of blue blood, without finding out beforehand what his visitor's position was. Something of the same sort had happened to him before; he had, on one occasion in a railway carriage, begun abusing the Germans, and it had afterwards appeared that all the persons he had been conversing with were German. In the second place he felt that Meier would never come and see him again. These intellectuals who have risen from the people are morbidly sensitive, obstinate and slow to forgive.
"It's bad, it's bad," muttered Rashevitch, spitting; he had a feeling of discomfort and loathing as though he had eaten soap. "Ah, it's bad!"
He could see from the garden, through the drawing-room window, Genya by the piano, very pale, and looking scared, with her hair down. She was talking very, very rapidly. . . . Iraida was walking up and down the room, lost in thought; but now she, too, began talking rapidly with her face full of indignation. They were both talking at once. Rashevitch could not hear a word, but he guessed what they were talking about. Genya was probably complaining that her father drove away every decent person from the house with his talk, and to-day he had driven away from them their one acquaintance, perhaps a suitor, and now the poor young man would not have one place in the whole district where he could find rest for his soul. And judging by the despairing way in which she threw up her arms, Iraida was talking probably on the subject of their dreary existence, their wasted youth. . . .
When he reached his own room, Rashevitch sat down on his bed and began to undress. He felt oppressed, and he was still haunted by the same feeling as though he had eaten soap. He was ashamed. As he undressed he looked at his long, sinewy, elderly legs, and remembered that in the district they called him the "toad," and after every long conversation he always felt ashamed. Somehow or other, by some fatality, it always happened that he began mildly, amicably, with good intentions, calling himself an old student, an idealist, a Quixote, but without being himself aware of it, gradually passed into abuse and slander, and what was most surprising, with perfect sincerity criticized science, art and morals, though he had not read a book for the last twenty years, had been nowhere farther than their provincial town, and did not really know what was going on in the world. If he sat down to write anything, if it were only a letter of congratulation, there would somehow be abuse in the letter. And all this was strange, because in reality he was a man of feeling, given to tears, Could he be possessed by some devil which hated and slandered in him, apart from his own will?
"It's bad," he sighed, as he lay down under the quilt. "It's bad."
His daughters did not sleep either. There was a sound of laughter and screaming, as though someone was being pursued; it was Genya in hysterics. A little later Iraida was sobbing too. A maidservant ran barefoot up and down the passage several times. . . .
"What a business! Good Lord! . . ." muttered Rashevitch, sighing and tossing from side to side. "It's bad."
He had a nightmare. He dreamt he was standing naked, as tall as a giraffe, in the middle of the room, and saying, as he flicked his finger before him:
"In his ugly face! his ugly face! his ugly face!"
He woke up in a fright, and first of all remembered that a misunderstanding had happened in the evening, and that Meier would certainly not come again. He remembered, too, that he had to pay the interest at the bank, to find husbands for his daughters, that one must have food and drink, and close at hand were illness, old age, unpleasantnesses, that soon it would be winter, and that there was no wood. . . .
It was past nine o'clock in the morning. Rashevitch slowly dressed, drank his tea and ate two hunks of bread and butter. His daughters did not come down to breakfast; they did not want to meet him, and that wounded him. He lay down on his sofa in his study, then sat down to his table and began writing a letter to his daughters. His hand shook and his eyes smarted. He wrote that he was old, and no use to anyone and that nobody loved him, and he begged his daughters to forget him, and when he died to bury him in a plain, deal coffin without ceremony, or to send his body to Harkov to the dissecting theatre. He felt that every line he wrote reeked of malice and affectation, but he could not stop, and went on writing and writing.
"The toad!" he suddenly heard from the next room; it was the voice of his elder daughter, a voice with a hiss of indignation. "The toad!"
"The toad!" the younger one repeated like an echo. "The toad!"