Franz Kafka

Monday, June 29, 2015

Just Published, "Vincenzo Cardarelli: The Forgotten Amongst the Great". A Collection of the Best Poems by Vincenzo Cardarelli, Translated in English

Vincenzo Cardarelli (pseudonym of Nazareno Caldarelli, 1887-1959) journalist, poet, and literary critic, led a solitary, dignified existence, from a humble background, through self-taught education and innumerable peregrinations, until his final days in poverty and loneliness. He stood and sought for all that a true artist and intellectual has to stand and seek for: the uncompromising authenticity of art. 

Until now, with the sole exception of a few poems translated by the great Irish poet Desmond O'Grady in the late 1950's, the work of Vincenzo Cardarelli had remained precluded to the English speaking world and the international audience at large. The publication of this extensive collection will finally disclose the doors to one of the most prominent, yet still relatively unexplored, Italian and European poet of the twentieth century.

Available as e-book on Amazon Kindle, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, on NOOK Bookon Koboand as printed, traditional edition through Lulu. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"The Duel and Other Stories," by Anton Chekhov, Translated in English by Constance Garnett. Full text in English: The Duel and Other Stories, by Anton Chekhov (Анто́н Па́влович Че́хов)

Ilya Repin's picture of the duel from Eugene Onegin

"The Duel and Other Stories," by Anton Chekhov, translated by Translated in English by Constance Garnett. Full text in English: The Duel and Other Stories, by Anton Chekhov.

The Duel

It was eight o'clock in the morning—the time when the officers, the local officials, and the visitors usually took their morning dip in the sea after the hot, stifling night, and then went into the pavilion to drink tea or coffee. Ivan Andreitch Laevsky, a thin, fair young man of twenty-eight, wearing the cap of a clerk in the Ministry of Finance and with slippers on his feet, coming down to bathe, found a number of acquaintances on the beach, and among them his friend Samoylenko, the army doctor.
With his big cropped head, short neck, his red face, his big nose, his shaggy black eyebrows and grey whiskers, his stout puffy figure and his hoarse military bass, this Samoylenko made on every newcomer the unpleasant impression of a gruff bully; but two or three days after making his acquaintance, one began to think his face extraordinarily good-natured, kind, and even handsome. In spite of his clumsiness and rough manner, he was a peaceable man, of infinite kindliness and goodness of heart, always ready to be of use. He was on familiar terms with every one in the town, lent every one money, doctored every one, made matches, patched up quarrels, arranged picnics at which he cooked shashlik and an awfully good soup of grey mullets. He was always looking after other people's affairs and trying to interest some one on their behalf, and was always delighted about something. The general opinion about him was that he was without faults of character. He had only two weaknesses: he was ashamed of his own good nature, and tried to disguise it by a surly expression and an assumed gruffness; and he liked his assistants and his soldiers to call him "Your Excellency," although he was only a civil councillor.
"Answer one question for me, Alexandr Daviditch," Laevsky began, when both he and Samoylenko were in the water up to their shoulders. "Suppose you had loved a woman and had been living with her for two or three years, and then left off caring for her, as one does, and began to feel that you had nothing in common with her. How would you behave in that case?"
"It's very simple. 'You go where you please, madam'—and that would be the end of it."
"It's easy to say that! But if she has nowhere to go? A woman with no friends or relations, without a farthing, who can't work . . ."
"Well? Five hundred roubles down or an allowance of twenty-five roubles a month—and nothing more. It's very simple."
"Even supposing you have five hundred roubles and can pay twenty-five roubles a month, the woman I am speaking of is an educated woman and proud. Could you really bring yourself to offer her money? And how would you do it?"
Samoylenko was going to answer, but at that moment a big wave covered them both, then broke on the beach and rolled back noisily over the shingle. The friends got out and began dressing.
"Of course, it is difficult to live with a woman if you don't love her," said Samoylenko, shaking the sand out of his boots. "But one must look at the thing humanely, Vanya. If it were my case, I should never show a sign that I did not love her, and I should go on living with her till I died."
He was at once ashamed of his own words; he pulled himself up and said:
"But for aught I care, there might be no females at all. Let them all go to the devil!"
The friends dressed and went into the pavilion. There Samoylenko was quite at home, and even had a special cup and saucer. Every morning they brought him on a tray a cup of coffee, a tall cut glass of iced water, and a tiny glass of brandy. He would first drink the brandy, then the hot coffee, then the iced water, and this must have been very nice, for after drinking it his eyes looked moist with pleasure, he would stroke his whiskers with both hands, and say, looking at the sea:
"A wonderfully magnificent view!"
After a long night spent in cheerless, unprofitable thoughts which prevented him from sleeping, and seemed to intensify the darkness and sultriness of the night, Laevsky felt listless and shattered. He felt no better for the bathe and the coffee.
"Let us go on with our talk, Alexandr Daviditch," he said. "I won't make a secret of it; I'll speak to you openly as to a friend. Things are in a bad way with Nadyezhda Fyodorovna and me . . . a very bad way! Forgive me for forcing my private affairs upon you, but I must speak out."
Samoylenko, who had a misgiving of what he was going to speak about, dropped his eyes and drummed with his fingers on the table.
"I've lived with her for two years and have ceased to love her," Laevsky went on; "or, rather, I realised that I never had felt any love for her. . . . These two years have been a mistake."
It was Laevsky's habit as he talked to gaze attentively at the pink palms of his hands, to bite his nails, or to pinch his cuffs. And he did so now.
"I know very well you can't help me," he said. "But I tell you, because unsuccessful and superfluous people like me find their salvation in talking. I have to generalise about everything I do. I'm bound to look for an explanation and justification of my absurd existence in somebody else's theories, in literary types—in the idea that we, upper-class Russians, are degenerating, for instance, and so on. Last night, for example, I comforted myself by thinking all the time: 'Ah, how true Tolstoy is, how mercilessly true!' And that did me good. Yes, really, brother, he is a great writer, say what you like!"
Samoylenko, who had never read Tolstoy and was intending to do so every day of his life, was a little embarrassed, and said:
"Yes, all other authors write from imagination, but he writes straight from nature."
"My God!" sighed Laevsky; "how distorted we all are by civilisation! I fell in love with a married woman and she with me. . . . To begin with, we had kisses, and calm evenings, and vows, and Spencer, and ideals, and interests in common. . . . What a deception! We really ran away from her husband, but we lied to ourselves and made out that we ran away from the emptiness of the life of the educated class. We pictured our future like this: to begin with, in the Caucasus, while we were getting to know the people and the place, I would put on the Government uniform and enter the service; then at our leisure we would pick out a plot of ground, would toil in the sweat of our brow, would have a vineyard and a field, and so on. If you were in my place, or that zoologist of yours, Von Koren, you might live with Nadyezhda Fyodorovna for thirty years, perhaps, and might leave your heirs a rich vineyard and three thousand acres of maize; but I felt like a bankrupt from the first day. In the town you have insufferable heat, boredom, and no society; if you go out into the country, you fancy poisonous spiders, scorpions, or snakes lurking under every stone and behind every bush, and beyond the fields—mountains and the desert. Alien people, an alien country, a wretched form of civilisation—all that is not so easy, brother, as walking on the Nevsky Prospect in one's fur coat, arm-in-arm with Nadyezhda Fyodorovna, dreaming of the sunny South. What is needed here is a life and death struggle, and I'm not a fighting man. A wretched neurasthenic, an idle gentleman . . . . From the first day I knew that my dreams of a life of labour and of a vineyard were worthless. As for love, I ought to tell you that living with a woman who has read Spencer and has followed you to the ends of the earth is no more interesting than living with any Anfissa or Akulina. There's the same smell of ironing, of powder, and of medicines, the same curl-papers every morning, the same self-deception."
"You can't get on in the house without an iron," said Samoylenko, blushing at Laevsky's speaking to him so openly of a lady he knew. "You are out of humour to-day, Vanya, I notice. Nadyezhda Fyodorovna is a splendid woman, highly educated, and you are a man of the highest intellect. Of course, you are not married," Samoylenko went on, glancing round at the adjacent tables, "but that's not your fault; and besides . . . one ought to be above conventional prejudices and rise to the level of modern ideas. I believe in free love myself, yes. . . . But to my thinking, once you have settled together, you ought to go on living together all your life."
"Without love?"
"I will tell you directly," said Samoylenko. "Eight years ago there was an old fellow, an agent, here—a man of very great intelligence. Well, he used to say that the great thing in married life was patience. Do you hear, Vanya? Not love, but patience. Love cannot last long. You have lived two years in love, and now evidently your married life has reached the period when, in order to preserve equilibrium, so to speak, you ought to exercise all your patience. . . ."
"You believe in your old agent; to me his words are meaningless. Your old man could be a hypocrite; he could exercise himself in the virtue of patience, and, as he did so, look upon a person he did not love as an object indispensable for his moral exercises; but I have not yet fallen so low. If I want to exercise myself in patience, I will buy dumb-bells or a frisky horse, but I'll leave human beings alone."
Samoylenko asked for some white wine with ice. When they had drunk a glass each, Laevsky suddenly asked:
"Tell me, please, what is the meaning of softening of the brain?"
"How can I explain it to you? . . . It's a disease in which the brain becomes softer . . . as it were, dissolves."
"Is it curable?"
"Yes, if the disease is not neglected. Cold douches, blisters. . . .
Something internal, too."
"Oh! . . . Well, you see my position; I can't live with her: it is more than I can do. While I'm with you I can be philosophical about it and smile, but at home I lose heart completely; I am so utterly miserable, that if I were told, for instance, that I should have to live another month with her, I should blow out my brains. At the same time, parting with her is out of the question. She has no friends or relations; she cannot work, and neither she nor I have any money. . . . What could become of her? To whom could she go? There is nothing one can think of. . . . Come, tell me, what am I to do?"
"H'm! . . ." growled Samoylenko, not knowing what to answer. "Does she love you?"
"Yes, she loves me in so far as at her age and with her temperament she wants a man. It would be as difficult for her to do without me as to do without her powder or her curl-papers. I am for her an indispensable, integral part of her boudoir."
Samoylenko was embarrassed.
"You are out of humour to-day, Vanya," he said. "You must have had a bad night."
"Yes, I slept badly. . . . Altogether, I feel horribly out of sorts, brother. My head feels empty; there's a sinking at my heart, a weakness. . . . I must run away."
"Run where?"
"There, to the North. To the pines and the mushrooms, to people and ideas. . . . I'd give half my life to bathe now in some little stream in the province of Moscow or Tula; to feel chilly, you know, and then to stroll for three hours even with the feeblest student, and to talk and talk endlessly. . . . And the scent of the hay! Do you remember it? And in the evening, when one walks in the garden, sounds of the piano float from the house; one hears the train passing. . . ."
Laevsky laughed with pleasure; tears came into his eyes, and to cover them, without getting up, he stretched across the next table for the matches.
"I have not been in Russia for eighteen years," said Samoylenko. "I've forgotten what it is like. To my mind, there is not a country more splendid than the Caucasus."
"Vereshtchagin has a picture in which some men condemned to death are languishing at the bottom of a very deep well. Your magnificent Caucasus strikes me as just like that well. If I were offered the choice of a chimney-sweep in Petersburg or a prince in the Caucasus, I should choose the job of chimney-sweep."
Laevsky grew pensive. Looking at his stooping figure, at his eyes fixed dreamily at one spot, at his pale, perspiring face and sunken temples, at his bitten nails, at the slipper which had dropped off his heel, displaying a badly darned sock, Samoylenko was moved to pity, and probably because Laevsky reminded him of a helpless child, he asked:
"Is your mother living?"
"Yes, but we are on bad terms. She could not forgive me for this affair."
Samoylenko was fond of his friend. He looked upon Laevsky as a good-natured fellow, a student, a man with no nonsense about him, with whom one could drink, and laugh, and talk without reserve. What he understood in him he disliked extremely. Laevsky drank a great deal and at unsuitable times; he played cards, despised his work, lived beyond his means, frequently made use of unseemly expressions in conversation, walked about the streets in his slippers, and quarrelled with Nadyezhda Fyodorovna before other people—and Samoylenko did not like this. But the fact that Laevsky had once been a student in the Faculty of Arts, subscribed to two fat reviews, often talked so cleverly that only a few people understood him, was living with a well-educated woman—all this Samoylenko did not understand, and he liked this and respected Laevsky, thinking him superior to himself.
"There is another point," said Laevsky, shaking his head. "Only it is between ourselves. I'm concealing it from Nadyezhda Fyodorovna for the time. . . . Don't let it out before her. . . . I got a letter the day before yesterday, telling me that her husband has died from softening of the brain."
"The Kingdom of Heaven be his!" sighed Samoylenko. "Why are you concealing it from her?"
"To show her that letter would be equivalent to 'Come to church to be married.' And we should first have to make our relations clear. When she understands that we can't go on living together, I will show her the letter. Then there will be no danger in it."
"Do you know what, Vanya," said Samoylenko, and a sad and imploring expression came into his face, as though he were going to ask him about something very touching and were afraid of being refused. "Marry her, my dear boy!"
"Do your duty to that splendid woman! Her husband is dead, and so
Providence itself shows you what to do!"
"But do understand, you queer fellow, that it is impossible. To marry without love is as base and unworthy of a man as to perform mass without believing in it."
"But it's your duty to."
"Why is it my duty?" Laevsky asked irritably.
"Because you took her away from her husband and made yourself responsible for her."
"But now I tell you in plain Russian, I don't love her!"
"Well, if you've no love, show her proper respect, consider her wishes. . . ."
"'Show her respect, consider her wishes,'" Laevsky mimicked him. "As though she were some Mother Superior! . . . You are a poor psychologist and physiologist if you think that living with a woman one can get off with nothing but respect and consideration. What a woman thinks most of is her bedroom."
"Vanya, Vanya!" said Samoylenko, overcome with confusion.
"You are an elderly child, a theorist, while I am an old man in spite of my years, and practical, and we shall never understand one another. We had better drop this conversation. Mustapha!" Laevsky shouted to the waiter. "What's our bill?"
"No, no . . ." the doctor cried in dismay, clutching Laevsky's arm. "It is for me to pay. I ordered it. Make it out to me," he cried to Mustapha.
The friends got up and walked in silence along the sea-front. When they reached the boulevard, they stopped and shook hands at parting.
"You are awfully spoilt, my friend!" Samoylenko sighed. "Fate has sent you a young, beautiful, cultured woman, and you refuse the gift, while if God were to give me a crooked old woman, how pleased I should be if only she were kind and affectionate! I would live with her in my vineyard and . . ."
Samoylenko caught himself up and said:
"And she might get the samovar ready for me there, the old hag."
After parting with Laevsky he walked along the boulevard. When, bulky and majestic, with a stern expression on his face, he walked along the boulevard in his snow-white tunic and superbly polished boots, squaring his chest, decorated with the Vladimir cross on a ribbon, he was very much pleased with himself, and it seemed as though the whole world were looking at him with pleasure. Without turning his head, he looked to each side and thought that the boulevard was extremely well laid out; that the young cypress-trees, the eucalyptuses, and the ugly, anemic palm-trees were very handsome and would in time give abundant shade; that the Circassians were an honest and hospitable people.
"It's strange that Laevsky does not like the Caucasus," he thought, "very strange."
Five soldiers, carrying rifles, met him and saluted him. On the right side of the boulevard the wife of a local official was walking along the pavement with her son, a schoolboy.
"Good-morning, Marya Konstantinovna," Samoylenko shouted to her with a pleasant smile. "Have you been to bathe? Ha, ha, ha! . . . My respects to Nikodim Alexandritch!"
And he went on, still smiling pleasantly, but seeing an assistant of the military hospital coming towards him, he suddenly frowned, stopped him, and asked:
"Is there any one in the hospital?"
"No one, Your Excellency."
"No one, Your Excellency."
"Very well, run along. . . ."
Swaying majestically, he made for the lemonade stall, where sat a full-bosomed old Jewess, who gave herself out to be a Georgian, and said to her as loudly as though he were giving the word of command to a regiment:
"Be so good as to give me some soda-water!"...
Read the full text in English.

Monday, June 15, 2015

"A un partente," by Vincenzo Cardarelli; "To someone about to leave," by Vincenzo Cardarelli, English version, translated by LiteraryJoint

Making Waves: Monet's 1864 Coastal View “la Pointe de la Héve, Sainte-Adresse” at The National Gallery in London.

To someone about to leave  

You will migrate, oh friend
from the Italian rubbles
towards the intact, idyllic Helvetia.
Light, like that of swallows,   
shall be your flight.
And like a swallow you shall cross over
high up, above the flames,
which make the sky an inferno. 
Higher than death, which above us,
doomed ancients, 
will keep standing.
We called upon her, it is in her good right to claim us.
But the guest who, born in
an innocent land, 
came to suffer,  guiltless,  
from our woes,
it is fair for him to leave and deprive us
of his undeserved goodness.
Our heart follows you, oh friend.
The best wish of those who remain accompanies you 
in  the audacious passage.

From the collection "Poesie," 1942, by Vincenzo Cardarelli.
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.

A un partente

Voi migrerete, amico
dalle macerie italiane
verso l'intatta idillica Elvezia.
Leggero, come di rondine,
sarà il vostro volo.
E come rondine voi passerete
in alto, sopra le fiamme,
che fan del cielo un inferno.
Piú alto della morte che su noi,
reprobì antichi,
seguiterà a sovrastare
Noi la chiarnammo, è suo diritto mieterci.
Ma l'ospite che, prole
d'una terra innocente,
ebbe a sofirire, incolpevole,
delle nostre sventure,
giusto è che ci lasci e che ci privi
di sua bontà immeritata.
Il cor vi segue, amico.
L'augurio di chi resta vi accompagna
nel transito audace.

From the collection "Poesie," 1942, by Vincenzo Cardarelli.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

"Virgin Soil," by Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev, English translation by R. S. Townsend. Virgin Soil (Russian: Новь), Ivan Turgenev, Virgin Soil, Full Text in English

Ivan Turgenev hunting (1879) by Nikolai Dmitriev-Orenburgsky (private collection)

Virgin Soil

By Ivan S. Turgenev
Translator: R. S. Townsend
"To turn over virgin soil it is necessary to use a deep plough going well into the earth, not a surface plough gliding lightly over the top." --From a Farmer's Notebook.
AT one o'clock in the afternoon of a spring day in the year 1868, a young man of twenty-seven, carelessly and shabbily dressed, was toiling up the back staircase of a five-storied house on Officers Street in St. Petersburg. Noisily shuffling his down-trodden goloshes and slowly swinging his heavy, clumsy figure, the man at last reached the very top flight and stopped before a half-open door hanging off its hinges. He did not ring the bell, but gave a loud sigh and walked straight into a small, dark passage.
"Is Nejdanov at home?" he called out in a deep, loud voice.
"No, he's not. I'm here. Come in," an equally coarse woman's voice responded from the adjoining room.
"Is that Mashurina?" asked the newcomer.
"Yes, it is I. Are you Ostrodumov?
"Pemien Ostrodumov," he replied, carefully removing his goloshes, and hanging his shabby coat on a nail, he went into the room from whence issued the woman's voice.
It was a narrow, untidy room, with dull green coloured walls, badly lighted by two dusty windows. The furnishings consisted of an iron bedstead standing in a corner, a table in the middle, several chairs, and a bookcase piled up with books. At the table sat a woman of about thirty. She was bareheaded, clad in a black stuff dress, and was smoking a cigarette. On catching sight of Ostrodumov she extended her broad, red hand without a word. He shook it, also without saying anything, dropped into a chair and pulled a half-broken cigar out of a side pocket. Mashurina gave him a light, and without exchanging a single word, or so much as looking at one another, they began sending out long, blue puffs into the stuffy room, already filled with smoke.
There was something similar about these two smokers, although their features were not a bit alike. In these two slovenly figures, with their coarse lips, teeth, and noses (Ostrodumov was even pock-marked), there was something honest and firm and persevering.
"Have you seen Nejdanov?" Ostrodumov asked.
"Yes. He will be back directly. He has gone to the library with some books."
Ostrodumov spat to one side.
"Why is he always rushing about nowadays? One can never get hold of him."
Mashurina took out another cigarette.
"He's bored," she remarked, lighting it carefully.
"Bored!" Ostrodumov repeated reproachfully. "What self-indulgence! One would think we had no work to do. Heaven knows how we shall get through with it, and he complains of being bored!"
"Have you heard from Moscow?" Mashurina asked after a pause.
"Yes. A letter came three days ago."
"Have you read it?"
Ostrodumov nodded his head.
"Well? What news?
"Some of us must go there soon."
Mashurina took the cigarette out of her mouth.
"But why?" she asked. "They say everything is going on well there."
"Yes, that is so, but one man has turned out unreliable and must be got rid of. Besides that, there are other things. They want you to come too."
"Do they say so in the letter?"
Mashurina shook back her heavy hair, which was twisted into a small plait at the back, and fell over her eyebrows in front.
"Well," she remarked; "if the thing is settled, then there is nothing more to be said."
"Of course not. Only one can't do anything without money, and where are we to get it from?"
Mashurina became thoughtful.
"Nejdanov must get the money," she said softly, as if to herself.
"That is precisely what I have come about," Ostrodumov observed.
"Have you got the letter?" Mashurina asked suddenly.
"Yes. Would you like to see it?"
"I should rather. But never mind, we can read it together presently."
"You need not doubt what I say. I am speaking the truth," Ostrodumov grumbled.
"I do not doubt it in the least." They both ceased speaking and, as before, clouds of smoke rose silently from their mouths and curled feebly above their shaggy heads.
A sound of goloshes was heard from the passage.
"There he is," Mashurina whispered.
The door opened slightly and a head was thrust in, but it was not the head of Nejdanov.
It was a round head with rough black hair, a broad wrinkled forehead, bright brown eyes under thick eyebrows, a snub nose and a humorously-set mouth. The head looked round, nodded, smiled, showing a set of tiny white teeth, and came into the room with its feeble body, short arms, and bandy legs, which were a little lame. As soon as Mashurina and Ostrodumov caught sight of this head, an expression of contempt mixed with condescension came over their faces, as if each was thinking inwardly, "What a nuisance!" but neither moved nor uttered a single word. The newly arrived guest was not in the least taken aback by this reception, however; on the contrary it seemed to amuse him.
"What is the meaning of this?" he asked in a squeaky voice. "A duet? Why not a trio? And where's the chief tenor?
"Do you mean Nejdanov, Mr. Paklin?" Ostrodumov asked solemnly.
"Yes, Mr. Ostrodumov."
"He will be back directly, Mr. Paklin."
"I am glad to hear that, Mr. Ostrodumov."
The little cripple turned to Mashurina. She frowned, and continued leisurely puffing her cigarette.
"How are you, my dear... my dear... I am so sorry. I always forget your Christian name and your father's name."
Mashurina shrugged her shoulders.
"There is no need for you to know it. I think you know my surname. What more do you want? And why do you always keep on asking how I am? You see that I am still in the land of the living!"
"Of course!" Paklin exclaimed, his face twitching nervously. "If you had been elsewhere, your humble servant would not have had the pleasure of seeing you here, and of talking to you! My curiosity is due to a bad, old-fashioned habit. But with regard to your name, it is awkward, somehow, simply to say Mashurina. I know that even in letters you only sign yourself Bonaparte! I beg pardon, Mashurina, but in conversation, however—"
"And who asks you to talk to me, pray?"
Paklin gave a nervous, gulpy laugh.
"Well, never mind, my dear. Give me your hand. Don't be cross. I know you mean well, and so do I... Well?"
Paklin extended his hand, Mashurina looked at him severely and extended her own.
"If you really want to know my name," she said with the same expression of severity on her face, "I am called Fiekla."
"And I, Pemien," Ostrodumov added in his bass voice.
"How very instructive! Then tell me, Oh Fiekla! and you, Oh Pemien! why you are so unfriendly, so persistently unfriendly to me when I—"
"Mashurina thinks," Ostrodumov interrupted him, "and not only Mashurina, that you are not to be depended upon, because you always laugh at everything."
Paklin turned round on his heels.
"That is the usual mistake people make about me, my dear Pemien! In the first place, I am not always laughing, and even if I were, that is no reason why you should not trust me. In the second, I have been flattered with your confidence on more than one occasion before now, a convincing proof of my trustworthiness. I am an honest man, my dear Pemien."
Ostrodumov muttered something between his teeth, but Paklin continued without the slightest trace of a smile on his face.
"No, I am not always laughing! I am not at all a cheerful person. You have only to look at me!"
Ostrodumov looked at him. And really, when Paklin was not laughing, when he was silent, his face assumed a dejected, almost scared expression; it became funny and rather sarcastic only when he opened his lips. Ostrodumov did not say anything, however, and Paklin turned to Mashurina again.
"Well? And how are your studies getting on? Have you made any progress in your truly philanthropical art? Is it very hard to help an inexperienced citizen on his first appearance in this world?
"It is not at all hard if he happens to be no bigger than you are!" Mashurina retorted with a self-satisfied smile. (She had quite recently passed her examination as a midwife. Coming from a poor aristocratic family, she had left her home in the south of Russia about two years before, and with about twelve shillings in her pocket had arrived in Moscow, where she had entered a lying-in institution and had worked very hard to gain the necessary certificate. She was unmarried and very chaste.) "No wonder!" some sceptics may say (bearing in mind the description of her personal appearance; but we will permit ourselves to say that it was wonderful and rare).
Paklin laughed at her retort.
"Well done, my dear! I feel quite crushed! But it serves me right for being such a dwarf! I wonder where our host has got to?"
Paklin purposely changed the subject of conversation, which was rather a sore one to him. He could never resign himself to his small stature, nor indeed to the whole of his unprepossessing figure. He felt it all the more because he was passionately fond of women and would have given anything to be attractive to them. The consciousness of his pitiful appearance was a much sorer point with him than his low origin and unenviable position in society. His father, a member of the lower middle class, had, through all sorts of dishonest means, attained the rank of titular councillor. He had been fairly successful as an intermediary in legal matters, and managed estates and house property. He had made a moderate fortune, but had taken to drink towards the end of his life and had left nothing after his death.

Monday, June 1, 2015

"Fathers and Sons" (or "Fathers and Children"), by Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev, English translation by Constance Clara Garnett. Fathers and Sons (Russian: Отцы и дети), Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons, Full Text in English

Portrait of Ivan Turgenev, by Vasily Perov, 1872

Fathers and Sons (aka Fathers Children), by Ivan Sergeevich
Turgenev, Translated by Constance Clara Garnett

Author: Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev (Ива́н Серге́евич Турге́нев)


Translated by Constance Garnett

Edited with Notes and Introductions by William Allan Neilson Ph.D.


Ivan Sergyevitch Turgenev came of an old stock of the Russian nobility.
He was born in Orel, in the province of Orel, which lies more than a
hundred miles south of Moscow, on October 28, 1818. His education was
begun by tutors at home in the great family mansion in the town of
Spask, and he studied later at the universities of Moscow, St.
Petersburg, and Berlin. The influence of the last, and of the
compatriots with whom he associated there, was very great; and when he
returned to Moscow in 1841, he was ambitious to teach Hegel to the
students there. Before this could be arranged, however, he entered the
Ministry of the Interior at St. Petersburg. While there his interests
turned more and more toward literature. He wrote verses and comedies,
read George Sand, and made the acquaintance of Dostoevsky and the
critic Bielinski. His mother, a tyrannical woman with an ungovernable
temper, was eager that he should make a brilliant official career; so,
when he resigned from the Ministry in 1845, she showed her disapproval
by cutting down his allowance and thus forcing him to support himself
by the profession he had chosen.

Turgenev was an enthusiastic hunter; and it was his experiences in the
woods of his native province that supplied the material for "A
Sportsman's Sketches," the book that first brought him reputation. The
first of these papers appeared in 1847, and in the same year he left
Russia in the train of Pauline Viardot, a singer and actress, to whom
he had been devoted for three or four years and with whom he maintained
relations for the rest of his life. For a year or two he lived chiefly
in Paris or at a country house at Courtavenel in Brie, which belonged
to Madame Viardot; but in 1850 he returned to Russia. His experiences
were not such as to induce him to repatriate himself permanently. He
found Dostoevsky banished to Siberia and Bielinski dead; and himself
under suspicion by the government on account of the popularity of "A
Sportsman's Sketches." For praising Gogol, who had just died, he was
arrested and imprisoned for a short time, and for the next two years
kept under police surveillance. Meantime he continued to write, and by
the time that the close of the Crimean War made it possible for him
again to go to western Europe, he was recognized as standing at the
head of living Russian authors. His mother was now dead, the estates
were settled, and with an income of about $5,000 a year he became a
wanderer. He had, or imagined he had, very bad health, and the eminent
specialists he consulted sent him from one resort to another, to Rome,
the Isle of Wight, Soden, and the like. When Madame Viardot left the
stage in 1864 and took up her residence at Baden-Baden, he followed her
and built there a small house for himself. They returned to France
after the Franco-Prussian War, and bought a villa at Bougival, near
Paris, and this was his home for the rest of his life. Here, on
September 3, 1883, he died after a long delirium due to his suffering
from cancer of the spinal cord. His body was taken to St. Petersburg
and was buried with national honors.

The two works by Turgenev contained in the present volume are
characteristic in their concern with social and political questions,
and in the prominence in both of them of heroes who fail in action.
Turgenev preaches no doctrine in his novels, has no remedy for the
universe; but he sees clearly certain weaknesses of the Russian
character and exposes these with absolute candor yet without
unkindness. Much as he lived abroad, his books are intensely Russian;
yet of the great Russian novelists he alone rivals the masters of
western Europe in the matter of form. In economy of means,
condensation, felicity of language, and excellence of structure he
surpasses all his countrymen; and "Fathers and Children" and "A House
of Gentlefolk" represent his great and delicate art at its best.

W. A. N.



'Well, Piotr, not in sight yet?' was the question asked on May the
20th, 1859, by a gentleman of a little over forty, in a dusty coat and
checked trousers, who came out without his hat on to the low steps of
the posting station at S----. He was addressing his servant, a chubby
young fellow, with whitish down on his chin, and little, lack-lustre

The servant, in whom everything--the turquoise ring in his ear, the
streaky hair plastered with grease, and the civility of his
movements--indicated a man of the new, improved generation, glanced
with an air of indulgence along the road, and made answer:

'No, sir; not in sight.'

'Not in sight?' repeated his master.

'No, sir,' responded the man a second time.

His master sighed, and sat down on a little bench. We will introduce
him to the reader while he sits, his feet tucked under him, gazing
thoughtfully round.

His name was Nikolai Petrovitch Kirsanov. He had, twelve miles from the
posting station, a fine property of two hundred souls, or, as he
expressed it--since he had arranged the division of his land with the
peasants, and started 'a farm'--of nearly five thousand acres. His
father, a general in the army, who served in 1812, a coarse,
half-educated, but not ill-natured man, a typical Russian, had been in
harness all his life, first in command of a brigade, and then of a
division, and lived constantly in the provinces, where, by virtue of
his rank, he played a fairly important part. Nikolai Petrovitch was
born in the south of Russia like his elder brother, Pavel, of whom more
hereafter. He was educated at home till he was fourteen, surrounded by
cheap tutors, free-and-easy but toadying adjutants, and all the usual
regimental and staff set. His mother, one of the Kolyazin family, as a
girl called Agathe, but as a general's wife Agathokleya Kuzminishna
Kirsanov, was one of those military ladies who take their full share of
the duties and dignities of office. She wore gorgeous caps and rustling
silk dresses; in church she was the first to advance to the cross; she
talked a great deal in a loud voice, let her children kiss her hand in
the morning, and gave them her blessing at night--in fact, she got
everything out of life she could. Nikolai Petrovitch, as a general's
son--though so far from being distinguished by courage that he even
deserved to be called 'a funk'--was intended, like his brother Pavel,
to enter the army; but he broke his leg on the very day when the news
of his commission came, and, after being two months in bed, retained a
slight limp to the end of his days. His father gave him up as a bad
job, and let him go into the civil service. He took him to Petersburg
directly he was eighteen, and placed him in the university. His brother
happened about the same time to be made an officer in the Guards. The
young men started living together in one set of rooms, under the remote
supervision of a cousin on their mother's side, Ilya Kolyazin, an
official of high rank. Their father returned to his division and his
wife, and only rarely sent his sons large sheets of grey paper,
scrawled over in a bold clerkly hand. At the bottom of these sheets
stood in letters, enclosed carefully in scroll-work, the words, 'Piotr
Kirsanov, General-Major.' In 1835 Nikolai Petrovitch left the
university, a graduate, and in the same year General Kirsanov was put
on to the retired list after an unsuccessful review, and came to
Petersburg with his wife to live. He was about to take a house in the
Tavrichesky Gardens, and had joined the English club, but he died
suddenly of an apoplectic fit. Agathokleya Kuzminishna soon followed
him; she could not accustom herself to a dull life in the capital; she
was consumed by the ennui of existence away from the regiment.
Meanwhile Nikolai Petrovitch had already, in his parents' lifetime and
to their no slight chagrin, had time to fall in love with the daughter
of his landlord, a petty official, Prepolovensky. She was a pretty and,
as it is called, 'advanced' girl; she used to read the serious articles
in the 'Science' column of the journals. He married her directly the
term of mourning was over; and leaving the civil service in which his
father had by favour procured him a post, was perfectly blissful with
his Masha, first in a country villa near the Lyesny Institute,
afterwards in town in a pretty little flat with a clean staircase and a
draughty drawing-room, and then in the country, where he settled
finally, and where in a short time a son, Arkady, was born to him. The
young couple lived very happily and peacefully; they were scarcely ever
apart; they read together, sang and played duets together on the piano;
she tended her flowers and looked after the poultry-yard; he sometimes
went hunting, and busied himself with the estate, while Arkady grew and
grew in the same happy and peaceful way. Ten years passed like a dream.
In 1847 Kirsanov's wife died. He almost succumbed to this blow; in a
few weeks his hair was grey; he was getting ready to go abroad, if
possible to distract his mind ... but then came the year 1848. He
returned unwillingly to the country, and, after a rather prolonged
period of inactivity, began to take an interest in improvements in the
management of his land. In 1855 he brought his son to the university;
he spent three winters with him in Petersburg, hardly going out
anywhere, and trying to make acquaintance with Arkady's young
companions. The last winter he had not been able to go, and here we
have him in the May of 1859, already quite grey, stoutish, and rather
bent, waiting for his son, who had just taken his degree, as once he
had taken it himself.

The servant, from a feeling of propriety, and perhaps, too, not anxious
to remain under the master's eye, had gone to the gate, and was smoking
a pipe. Nikolai Petrovitch bent his head, and began staring at the
crumbling steps; a big mottled fowl walked sedately towards him,
treading firmly with its great yellow legs; a muddy cat gave him an
unfriendly look, twisting herself coyly round the railing. The sun was
scorching; from the half-dark passage of the posting station came an
odour of hot rye-bread. Nikolai Petrovitch fell to dreaming. 'My son
... a graduate ... Arkasha ...' were the ideas that continually came
round again and again in his head; he tried to think of something else,
and again the same thoughts returned. He remembered his dead wife....
'She did not live to see it!' he murmured sadly. A plump, dark-blue
pigeon flew into the road, and hurriedly went to drink in a puddle near
the well. Nikolai Petrovitch began looking at it, but his ear had
already caught the sound of approaching wheels.

'It sounds as if they're coming sir,' announced the servant, popping in
from the gateway.

Nikolai Petrovitch jumped up, and bent his eyes on the road. A carriage
appeared with three posting-horses harnessed abreast; in the carriage
he caught a glimpse of the blue band of a student's cap, the familiar
outline of a dear face.

'Arkasha! Arkasha!' cried Kirsanov, and he ran waving his hands.... A
few instants later, his lips were pressed to the beardless, dusty,
sunburnt-cheek of the youthful graduate.


'Let me shake myself first, daddy,' said Arkady, in a voice tired from
travelling, but boyish and clear as a bell, as he gaily responded to
his father's caresses; 'I am covering you with dust.'

'Never mind, never mind,' repeated Nikolai Petrovitch, smiling
tenderly, and twice he struck the collar of his son's cloak and his own
greatcoat with his hand. 'Let me have a look at you; let me have a look
at you,' he added, moving back from him, but immediately he went with
hurried steps towards the yard of the station, calling, 'This way, this
way; and horses at once.'

Nikolai Petrovitch seemed far more excited than his son; he seemed a
little confused, a little timid. Arkady stopped him.

'Daddy,' he said, 'let me introduce you to my great friend, Bazarov,
about whom I have so often written to you. He has been so good as to
promise to stay with us.'

Nikolai Petrovitch went back quickly, and going up to a tall man in a
long, loose, rough coat with tassels, who had only just got out of the
carriage, he warmly pressed the ungloved red hand, which the latter did
not at once hold out to him.

'I am heartily glad,' he began, 'and very grateful for your kind
intention of visiting us.... Let me know your name, and your father's.'

'Yevgeny Vassilyev,' answered Bazarov, in a lazy but manly voice; and
turning back the collar of his rough coat, he showed Nikolai Petrovitch
his whole face. It was long and lean, with a broad forehead, a nose
flat at the base and sharper at the end, large greenish eyes, and
drooping whiskers of a sandy colour; it was lighted up by a tranquil
smile, and showed self-confidence and intelligence.

'I hope, dear Yevgeny Vassilyitch, you won't be dull with us,'
continued Nikolai Petrovitch.

Bazarov's thin lips moved just perceptibly, though he made no reply,
but merely took off his cap. His long, thick hair did not hide the
prominent bumps on his head.

'Then, Arkady,' Nikolai Petrovitch began again, turning to his son,
'shall the horses be put to at once? or would you like to rest?'

'We will rest at home, daddy; tell them to harness the horses.'

'At once, at once,' his father assented. 'Hey, Piotr, do you hear? Get
things ready, my good boy; look sharp.'

Piotr, who as a modernised servant had not kissed the young master's
hand, but only bowed to him from a distance, again vanished through the

'I came here with the carriage, but there are three horses for your
coach too,' said Nikolai Petrovitch fussily, while Arkady drank some
water from an iron dipper brought him by the woman in charge of the
station, and Bazarov began smoking a pipe and went up to the driver,
who was taking out the horses; 'there are only two seats in the
carriage, and I don't know how your friend' ...

'He will go in the coach,' interposed Arkady in an undertone. 'You must
not stand on ceremony with him, please. He's a splendid fellow, so
simple--you will see.'

Nikolai Petrovitch's coachman brought the horses round.

'Come, hurry up, bushy beard!' said Bazarov, addressing the driver.

'Do you hear, Mityuha,' put in another driver, standing by with his
hands thrust behind him into the opening of his sheepskin coat, 'what
the gentleman called you? It's a bushy beard you are too.'

Mityuha only gave a jog to his hat and pulled the reins off the heated

'Look sharp, look sharp, lads, lend a hand,' cried Nikolai Petrovitch;
'there'll be something to drink our health with!'

In a few minutes the horses were harnessed; the father and son were
installed in the carriage; Piotr climbed up on to the box; Bazarov
jumped into the coach, and nestled his head down into the leather
cushion; and both the vehicles rolled away.