He wrote major works concerning the human condition, and they all seem to have been written yesterday. The wisest of all, in my opinion, is he who can, if only once a month, call himself a fool a faculty unheard of nowadays. The wisest of all, in my opinion, is he who can, if only once a month, call himself a fool — a faculty unheard of nowadays. In old days, once a year at any rate a fool would recognize that he was a fool, but nowadays not a bit of it.

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A bobok is a small bean Translated by Constance Garnett. Tell me that, pray. I did not resent it, I am a timid man; but here they have actually made me out mad. An artist painted my portrait as it happened: "After all, you are a literary man," he said. I submitted, he exhibited it. I read: "Go and look at that morbid face suggesting insanity. In print everything ought to be decorous; there ought to be ideals, while instead of that. Nowadays humour and a fine style have disappeared, and abuse is accepted as wit.

I do not resent it: but God knows I am not enough of a literary man to go out of my mind. I have written a novel, it has not been published. I have written articles - they have been refused. Those articles I took about from one editor to another; everywhere they refused them: you have no salt they told me. I write advertisements for shopkeepers too: "Unique opportunity! Fine tea, from our own plantations. I compiled the "Art of pleasing the ladies", a commission from a bookseller. I have brought out some six little works of this kind in the course of my life.

I am thinking of making a collection of the bons mots of Voltaire, but am afraid it may seem a little flat to our people. Though indeed I do send round letters to the editors gratis and fully signed. I give them all sorts of counsels and admonitions, criticise and point out the true path. I have wasted four roubles over stamps alone for them. My temper is at the bottom of it all. I believe that the artist who painted me did so not for the sake of literature, but for the sake of two symmetrical warts on my forehead, a natural phenomenon, he would say.

They have no ideas, so now they are out for phenomena. That is what they call realism. And as to madness, a great many people were put down as mad among us last year. And in such language! Well, but after all, these so-called madmen have turned out cleverer than ever. So it seems the critics can call them mad, but they cannot produce anyone better. The wisest of all, in my opinion, is he who can, if only once a month, call himself a fool - a faculty unheard of nowadays.

In old days, once a year at any rate a fool would recognise that he was a fool, but nowadays not a bit of it.

And they have so muddled things up that there is no telling a fool from a wise man. They have done that on purpose. I remember a witty Spaniard saying when, two hundred and fifty years ago, the French built their first madhouses: "They have shut up all their fools in a house apart, to make sure that they are wise men themselves. Hang it though, why am I maundering on? I go on grumbling and grumbling.

Even my maidservant is sick of me. Yesterday a friend came to see me. Something strange is happening to me. My character is changing and my head aches. I am beginning to see and hear strange things, not voices exactly, but as though someone beside me were muttering, "bobok, bobok, bobok! I must divert my mind. I went out in search of diversion, I hit upon a funeral. A distant relation - a collegiate counsellor, however. A widow and five daughters, all marriageable young ladies.

What must it come to even to keep them in slippers. Their father managed it, but now there is only a little pension. They will have to eat humble pie. They have always received me ungraciously. And indeed I should not have gone to the funeral now had it not been for a peculiar circumstance.

I followed the procession to the cemetery with the rest; they were stuck-up and held aloof from me. My uniform was certainly rather shabby. To begin with the smell. There were fifteen hearses, with palls varying in expensiveness; there were actually two catafalques. There were many mourners, a great deal of feigned mourning and a great deal of open gaiety.

The clergy have nothing to complain of; it brings them a good income. But the smell, the smell. I should not like to be one of the clergy here. I kept glancing at the faces of the dead cautiously, distrusting my impressionability. Some had a mild expression, some looked unpleasant. As a rule the smiles were disagreeable, and in some cases very much so. During the service I went out of the church into the air: it was a grey day, but dry. It was cold too, but then it was October.

I walked about among the tombs. They are of different grades. The first two grades are tombs in the church and under the porch; they cost a pretty penny. On this occasion they were burying in tombs of the third grade six persons, among them the general and the lady.

I looked into the graves - and it was horrible: water and such water! Absolutely green, and The gravedigger was baling it out every minute. I went out while the service was going on and strolled outside the gates. Close by was an almshouse, and a little further off there was a restaurant. It was not a bad little restaurant: there was lunch and everything. There were lots of the mourners here. I noticed a great deal of gaiety and genuine heartiness. I had something to eat and drink.

Then I took part in the bearing of the coffin from the church to the grave. Why is it that corpses in their coffins are so heavy?

They say it is due to some sort of inertia, that the body is no longer directed by its owner. Civilians love to pass opinions about subjects that are the province of the soldier and even of the field-marshal; while men who have been educated as engineers prefer discussing philosophy and political economy. I did not go to the requiem service. I have some pride, and if I am only received owing to some special necessity, why force myself on their dinners, even if it be a funeral dinner.

I began with the Moscow exhibition and ended with reflecting upon astonishment in the abstract. My deductions about astonishment were these: "To be surprised at everything is stupid of course, and to be astonished at nothing is a great deal more becoming and for some reason accepted as good form. But that is not really true. To my mind to be astonished at nothing is much more stupid than to be astonished at everything. And, moreover, to be astonished at nothing is almost the same as feeling respect for nothing.

And indeed a stupid man is incapable of feeling respect. I thirst to feel respect," one of my acquaintances said to me the other day. He thirsts to feel respect! Goodness, I thought, what would happen to you if you dared to print that nowadays? At that point I sank into forgetfulness.

An unfinished sandwich was lying on the tombstone near me; stupid and inappropriate. I threw it on the ground, as it was not bread but only a sandwich. Though I believe it is not a sin to throw bread on the earth, but only on the floor. I suppose I sat there a long time - too long a time, in fact; I must have lain down on a long stone which was of the shape of a marble coffin.

At first I did not pay attention to it, but treated it with contempt. But the conversation went on. I came to myself, sat up and began listening attentively.

You led hearts, I return your lead, and here you play the seven of diamonds.


Fjodor Michailowitsch Dostojewski

Netschajewa, stammte aus einer wohlhabenden Moskauer Kaufmannsfamilie. Das Paar hatte acht Kinder, von denen sieben das Erwachsenenalter erreichten. Nach Michail — war der am November im julianischen Kalender :


Fyodor Dostoevsky

From there he was assigned to a Moscow hospital, where he served as military doctor, and in , he was appointed a senior physician. In he married Maria Nechayeva. The following year, he took up a post at the Mariinsky Hospital for the poor. Mikhail Dostoevsky and Maria Dostoevskaya born Nechayeva. He was raised in the family home in the grounds of the Mariinsky Hospital for the Poor, which was in a lower class district on the edges of Moscow. From the age of three, he was read heroic sagas, fairy tales and legends by his nanny, Alena Frolovna, an especially influential figure in his upbringing and love for fictional stories. When a nine-year-old girl had been raped by a drunk, he was asked to fetch his father to attend to her.


Bobok (Dostojewski)


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