Autodidact: self-taught

Nov
25
2012

G

by V. L. Craven

The Gift G
001. 3: One cloudy but luminous day, towards four in the afternoon on April the first, 192- (a foreign critic once remarked that while many novels, most German ones for example, begin with a date, it is only Russian authors who, in keeping with the honesty peculiar to our literature, omit the final digit)
002. 4: Some day, he thought, I must use such a scene to start a good, thick old-fashioned novel. The fleeting thought was touched with a careless irony; an irony, however, that was quite unnecessary, because somebody within him, on his behalf, independently from him, had absorbed all this, recorded it, and filed it away.
003. 4:…beginning with a post office and ending with a church, like an epistolary novel.
004. 11: …the nebulous state of the infant always seems to me to be a slow convalescence after a dreadful illness, and the receding from a primal nonexistence becomes an approach to it when I strain my memory to the very limit so as to taste of that darkness and use its lessons to prepare myself for the darkness to come…
005. 11:…the shadow of the left brass knob at the foot of my bed sweeps past like a black head swelling as it moves…
006. 25: But there is one thing I shall definitely not find there awaiting me—the thing which, indeed, made the whole business of exile worth cultivating: my childhood and the fruits of my childhood.
007. 36: He, to whom so-called politics (that ridiculous sequence of pacts, conflicts, aggravations, frictions, discords, collapses, and the transformation of perfectly innocent little towns into the names of international treaties) meant nothing…
008. 41: It is a funny thing, when you imagine yourself returning into the past with the contraband of the present, how weird it would be to encounter there, in unexpected places, the prototypes of today’s acquaintances, so young and fresh, who in a kind of lucid lunacy do not recognize you; thus a woman, for instance, whom one loves since yesterday, appears as a young girl, standing practically next to one in a crowded train, while the chance passerby who fifteen years ago asked you the way in the street now works in the same office as you. Among this throng of the past only a dozen or so faces would acquire this anachronistic importance…
009. 45: The elder Chernyshevskis, as well as Rudolf’s parents and Olya’s mother…not only did not sense that something doomful was growing, but would have confidently replied…that everything was all right, that everybody was happy. Afterwards, though, when everything had happened, their cheated memories made every every effort to find in the routine past course of identically tinted days, traces and evidence of what was to come—and, surprisingly, they would find them.
010. 45: …there are, however, sorrows that one does not cure by death, since they can be treated much more simply by life.
011. 53: …he was tormented by the feeling that there was some line of thought he had not pursued to its conclusion that day and now could never finish.
012. 53: …the still quite transparent poplar, resembling the nervous system of a giant…
013. 54: White Russian tenants quailed before them: accustomed to subjection, we everywhere appoint over ourselves the shadow of supervision.
014. 57: He turned the switch, but most of the night had dissolved and all the pale and chilled objects in the room stood like people come to meet someone on a smoky railroad platform.
015. 63: …resuming his progress alone the sidewalk, read his poems over several times, varying the inner intonations; that is, imagining one by one the various mental ways the poem would be read, perhaps was now being read, by those whose opinion he considered important—and with each of these different incarnations he would almost physically feel a change in the color of his eyes, and also in the color behind his eyes.
016. pp71-74: ‘I believe so. You see, the way I look at it, there are only two kinds of books: bedside and wastebasket…’
‘A bit severe, isn’t it? And a bit dangerous. Don’t forget that the whole of Russian literature of one century and, after the most lenient eliminations, takes up no more than three to three and a half thousand printed sheets, and scarcely one-half of this is worthy of the bookshelf, to say nothing of the bedside table. With such quantitative scantiness we must resign ourselves to the fact that our Pegases is piebald,that not everything about a bad writer is bad, and not all about a good one good.’
‘Perhaps you will give me some examples so that I can refute them.’
‘Certainly: if you open Goncharov or–’
‘Stop right there! Don’t tell me you have a kind word for Oblomov—that first ‘Ilyich’ who was the ruin of Russia—and the joy of social critics? Or you want to discuss the miserable hygienic conditions of Victorian seductions? Crinoline and damp garden bench? Or perhaps the style? What about his ‘Precipice’ where Rayski at moments of pensiveness is shown with ‘rosy moisture shimmering between his lips’? –which reminds me somehow of Pisemski’s protagonists, each of whom under the stress of violent emotion ‘massages his chest with his hand!’ ‘
‘Here I shall trap you. Aren’t there some good things in the same Pisemski? For example, those footmen in the vestibule, during a ball, who play catch with a lady’s velveteen boot, horribly muddy and worn. Aha! And since we are speaking of second-rank authors, what do you think of Leskov?’
‘Well, let me see… Amusing Anglicisms crop up in his style, such as ‘eto byla durnaya veshch’ [this was a bad thing] instead of simply ‘plokho delo.’ As to his contrived, punning distortions—No, spare me, I don’t find them funny. And his verbosity—Good God! His ‘Soboryane’ could easily be condensed to two newspaper feuilletons. And I don’t know which is worse—his virtuous Britishers or his virtuous clerics.’
‘And yet…how about his image of Jesus ‘the ghostly Galilean, cool and gentle, in a robe the colour of ripening plum’? Or his description of a yawning dog’s mouth with ‘its bluish palate as if smeared with pomade’? Or that lightning of his that at night illumines the room in detail, even to the magnesium oxide left on a silver spoon?’ ‘
‘Yes, I grant you he has a Latin feeling for blueness: lividus. Lyov Tolstoy, on the other hand, preferred violet shades and the bliss of stepping barefoot with the rooks upon the rich dark soil of plowed fields! Of course, I should never have bought them.’
‘You’re right, they pinch unbearably. But we have moved up to the first rank. Don’t tell me you can’t find weak spots there too? In such stories as ‘The Blizzard’ –
‘Leave Pushkin alone: he is the gold reserve of our literature. And over there is Chekhov’s hamper,which contains enough food for years to come, and a whimpering puppy, and a bottle of Crimean wine.’
‘Wait, let’s go back to the forebears. Gogol? I think we can accept his ‘entire organism.’ Turgenev? Dostoevski?’
‘Bedlam turned back into Bethlehem—that’s Dostoevski for you. ‘With one reservation,’ as our friend Mortus says. In the ‘Karamazovs’ there is somewhere a circular mark left by a wet wine glass on an outdoor table. That’s worth saving if one uses your approach.’
‘But don’t tell me all is well with Turgenev? Remember those inept tete-a-tetes in acacia arbors? The growling and quivering of Bazarov? His highly unconvincing fussing with those frogs? And in general, I don’t know if you can stand the particular intonation of the Turgenevian row of dots at the close of a ‘fading phrase’ and the maudlin endings of his chapters. Or should we forgive all his sins because of the gray sheen of Mme. Odintsev’s black silks and the outstretched hind legs of some of his graceful sentences, those rabbitlike postures assumed by his resting hounds?’
‘My father used to find all kinds of howlers in Turgenev’s and Tolstoy’s hunting scenes and descriptions of nature, and as for the wretched Akaskov, let’s not even discuss his disgraceful blunders in that field.’
‘Now that the dead bodies have been removed we might, perhaps, proceed to the poets? All right. By the way, speaking of dead bodies, has it ever occurred to you that in Lermontov’s most famous short poem the ‘familiar corpse’ at the end is extremely funny? What he really wanted to say was ‘corpse of the man she once knew.’ The posthumous acquaintance is unjustified and meaningless.’
‘Of late it’s Tyutchev who shares my night lodgings most often.’
‘A worthy house guest. And how do you feel about Nekrasov’s iambics—or don’t you have a taste for him?’
‘Oh, I do. There is, in his best verse, a certain guitar twang, a sob and a gasp, which for instance Fet, a more refined artist, somehow lacks.’
‘I have a feeling that Fet’s secret weakness is his rationality and stress on antitheses—This hasn’t escaped you, has it?’
‘Our oafish school-of-social-intent writers criticized him for the wrong reasons. No, I can forgive him everything for ‘rang out in the darkening meadow,’ for ‘dew-tears of rapture shed the night,’ for the wing-fanning, ‘breathing’ butterfly.’
‘And so we move on to the next century: mind the step. You and I began to rave about poetry in our boyhood, didn’t we? Refresh my memory—how did it go?–’how the rims of the clouds palpitate’…Poor old Balmont!’
‘Or, illuminated from Blok’s side, ‘Clouds of chimerical solace.’ Oh, but it would have been a crime to be choosy here. My mind in those days accepted ecstatically, gratefully, completely, without critical carpings, all of the five poets whose names began with ‘B’–the five senses of the new Russian poetry.’
017. 76: Whose business is it that actually we parted at the very first corner, and that I have been reciting a fictitious dialogue with myself as supplied by a self-teaching handbook of literary inspiration?
018. 80: …like the vividness of dreams at the wrong time of day.
019. 80-81: …the feet, sides and necks of the native passengers. His reason knew that they could also include genuine, completely human individuals with unselfish passions, pure sorrows, even with memories shining through life, but for some reason he got the impression that all these cold, slippery eyes, looking at him as if he were carrying an illegal treasure (which his gift was, essentially), belonged only to malicious hags and crooked hucksters. The Russian conviction that the German is in small number vulgar and in large numbers unbearably vulgar was, he knew, a conviction unworthy of an artist…
020. 83: … the unpleasant feeling of lateness was replaced in Fyodor’s soul by a distinct and somehow joyful decision not to appear at all for the lesson—to get off at the next stop and return home to his half-read book, to his unworldly cares, to the blissful mist in which his real life floated, to the complex, happy, devout work which had occupied him for about a year already.
021. 88: It happens that over a long period you are promised a great success, in which from the very start you do not believe, so dissimilar is it from the rest of fate’s offerings, and if from time to time you do think of it, then you do so as it were to indulge your fantasy—but when, at last, on a very ordinary day with a west wind blowing, the news comes—simply, instantaneously and decisively destroying any hope in it—then you are suddenly amazed to find that although you did not believe in it, you had been living with it all this time, not realising the constant, close presence of the dream, which had long since grown fat and independent, so that now you cannot get it out of your life without making a hole in that life.
022. 99: The triple formula of human existence: irrevocability, unrealizability, inevitability—was well known to him.
023. 114: He was endowed with an even temper, self-control, strong willpower and a vivid sense of humour; but when he became angry his wrath was like a sudden stroke of frost (Grandmother said behind his back: “All the clocks in the house stopped”), and I can well remember those sudden silences at table and the kind of absentminded look that immediately appeared on Mother’s father (ill-wishers among our female kin maintained that she ‘trembled before Kostya”), and how one of the governesses at the end of the table would hastily place her palm on a glass which was on the point of tinkling. The cause of his wrath could be a blunder by someone, a miscomputation by the steward (Father was well versed in the estate affairs), a flippant remark made about an intimate of his life, trite political sentiments in the spirit of soapbox patriotism brought by some ill-starred guest…
024. 122: …again I ask myself what Father is thinking about when he is not busy collecting and stands there like that, quite still…appearing as it were on the crest of my recollection, torturing me, enrapturing me—to the point of pain, to an insanity of tenderness, envy and love, tormenting my soul with his inscrutable solitariness.
025. 127: I was rather in different to the cruelty of war; I even conceded that one could take a certain delight in the accuracy of a shot, in the danger of a reconnaissance or in the delicacy of a maneuver; but these little pleasures (which are better represented moreover in other special branches of sport, such as: tiger hunting, noughts and crosses, professional boxing) in no way compensated for that touch of dismal idiocy which is inherent in any war.
026. 132: The shade of Zhaksybay, who had died the preceding autumn, slipped off the porch bench and went back to its quiet, handsome paradise, rich in roses and sheep. [PN: wonderful how the dead are still around.]
027. 139: Frau Stoboy requested Fyodor to find himself another roof within the month. He continually postponed his inquiries, not only out of laziness and an optimistic tendency to endow a stretch of granted time with the rounded shape of eternity, but also because he found it unbearably nasty to invade alien worlds for the purpose of discovering a place for himself.
028. 142: [When asked to meet someone at half eleven] “Wait a second,” said Fyodor (for whom to rise at ten was the equivalent of rising at five for anyone else). …The next morning when he arrived at the stipulated address—in an irritable mood, with a woolly brain and with only half of him functioning (as if the other half of him had still not opened on account of the earliness of the hour)
029. 148: “Butterfly” by Fet, and Tyutchev’s “Now the dim-blue shadows mingle”; Severyanin’s The Thunder-Bubbling Cup
030. 153: [About the difficulty of putting into words one's feelings] The agitation which seized me, swiftly covered me with an icy sheet, squeezed my joints and jerked at my fingers. The lunatic wandering of my thought which by unknown means found the door in a thousand leading into the noisy night of the garden, the expansion and contraction of the heart, now as vast as the starry sky and then as small as a droplet of mercury, the opening arms of a kind of inner embracement, classicism’s sacred thrill, mutterings, tears—all this was genuine. But at that moment, in a hasty and clumsy attempt to resolve the agitation, I clutched at the first hackneyed words available, at their ready-made linkages, so that as soon as I had embarked on what I thought to be creation, on what should have been the expression, the living connection between my divine excitement and my human world, everything expired in a fatal gust of words, whereas I continued to rotate epithets and adjust rhymes without noticing the split, the debasement and the betrayal…
031. 154: An odd constraint, the desire to say something important, silence, vague insignificant words. Love, to put it simply, repeats at the last parting the musical theme of shyness that precedes its first avowal.
032. 154: Since there were things he wanted to express just as naturally and unrestrainedly as the lungs want to expand, hence words suitable for breathing ought to exist. The oft repeated complaints of poets that, alas, no words are available, that words are pale corpses, that words are incapable of expressing our thingummy-bob feelings (and to prove it a torrent of trochaic hexameters is set loose) seemed to him just as senseless as the staid conviction of the eldest inhabitant of a mountain hamlet that yonder mountain has never been climbed by anyone and never will be; one fine, cold morning a long lean Englishman appears—and cheerfully scrambles up to the top.
033. 156: None of this did he see for the moment, but it was all there: a small society of objects schooled to become invisible and in this finding their purpose, which they could only fulfill through the constancy of their miscellaneousness.
034. 158: On a tenderly itchy spot to one side of his chin, among the hairs which had grown up overnight (how many yards of them shall i cut off in my life?), there had appeared a yellow-headed pimple which instantly became the hub of Fyodor’s existence, a rallying point for all the unpleasant feelings now trekking in from different parts of his being. He squeezed it out—although he knew it would later swell up three times as big.
035. 159: And Shchyogolev launched on a discussion of politics. Like many unpaid windbags he thought he could combine the reports he read in the papers by paid windbags into an orderly scheme, upon following which a logical and sober mind (in this case his mind) could with no effort explain and foresee a multitude of world events. The names of countries and of their leading representatives became in his hands something in the nature of labels for more or less full but essentially identical vessels, whose contents he poured this way and that. France was AFRAID of something or other and therefore would never ALLOW it. England was AIMING at something. This statesman craved rapprochement, while that one wanted to increase his PRESTIGE. Someone was PLOTTING and someone was STRIVING for something. In short, the world Shchyogolev created came out as some kind of collection of limited, humorless, facelss and abstract bullies, and the more brains, cunning and circumspection he found in their mutual activities the more stupid, vulgar and simple his world became. It used to be quite awesome when he came across another similar lover of political prognoses. For example, there was Colonel Kasatkin, who used to come sometimes to dinner, and then Shchyogolev’s England clashed not with another Shchyogolev country but with Kasatkin’s England, equally non-existent, so that in a certain sense international wars turned into civil wars, although the warring sides existed on different levels which could never come into contact with one another.
036. 161: Firmly believing that the humorous side of things had long since been worked out in the proper place for it (the back page of a Berlin illustrated weekly), he never laughed, or limited himself to a condescending snicker.
037. 163: Down the helical stairs of the bus that drew up came a pair of charming silk legs: we know of course that this has been worn threadbare by the efforts of a thousand male writers, nut nevertheless down they came, these legs—and deceived: the face was revolting.
038. 165: …he experienced that most trivial of all feelings on earth: the stab of a missed opportunity.
039. 165: …he had become accustomed to the thought that between the deceit of casual love and the sweetness of its temptation there was void, a gap in life, an absence of any real action on his part, so that on occasion, when he looked at a passing girl, he imagined both the stupendous possibility of happiness and repugnance for its inevitable imperfection.
040. 171: He was fatigued and infuriated by the disharmony between the lack of stamina of his chess thought in the process of contest and that exclamation-mark-rating brilliance for which it strove.
041. 175: Ought one not to reject any longing for one’s homeland, for any homeland besides that which is with me, within me…
042. 177: She always unexpectedly appeared out of the darkness, like a shadow leaving its kindred element.
043. 180: Under a monarchy—flags and drums, under a republic—flags and elections…
044. 183: And, as often happened with him—though it was deeper this time than ever before—Fyodor suddenly felt—in this glassy darkness—the strangeness of life, the strangeness of its magic, as if a corner of ithad been turned back for an instant and he had glimpsed its unusual lining.
045. 185: …and Fyodor, who had happened to see the baron once or twice, could not help wondering with a shudder of disgust what they could find in one another, and, if they found anything, what procedure did they
adopt, this elderly, fleshy woman with a toad’s face and this old skeleton with decaying teeth.
046. 186: As with most babblers, his reminiscences always contained some extraordinary conversationalist who told him endless things of interest (“I’ve never met another as clever as he in all my life,” he would remakr somewhat uncivilly)–and since it was impossible to imagine Boris Ivanovich in the role of a silent listening, one had to allow that this was a special form of split personality.
047. 189: The atmosphere of her office reminded him somehow of Dickens (in a German paraphrase, it is true)–a semi-insane world of gloomy lean men and repulsive chubby ones, subterfuge, black shadows, nightmare snouts, dust, stench and women’s tears. It began with a dark, steep, incredibly dilapidated staircase which was fully matched by the sinister decrepitude of the office premises, a state of affairs not true only of the chief barrister’s office with its overstuffed armchairs and giant glass-topped-table furnishings.
048. 204: …a pile of stones on an Asian pass; warriors going on a campaign each placed a stone there; on the way back each took a stone from the pile; that which was left represented forever the number of those fallen in battle.
049. 219: …an uneven struggle with the desires of the flesh, ending in a secret compromise…
050. 239: …any genuinely new trend is a knight’s move, a change of shadows, …
051. 282: What to do? Live, read, think. What to do? Work at one’s own development in order to achieve the aim of life, which is happiness. What to do?
052. 304: …the analysis of any book is awkward and pointless, and, moreover, we are interested not in the way an author executed his ‘task’ nor even in the ‘task’ itself, but only in the author’s attitude toward it.
053. 309: I know that death in itself is in no way connected with the topography of the hereafter, for a door is merely the exit from the house and not a part of its surroundings, like a tree or a hill. One has to get out somehow.
054. 310: Is it not possible to understand more simply, in a way more satisfying to the spirit without the aid of this elegant atheist and equally without the aid of popular faiths? For religion subsumes a suspicious facility of general access that destroys the value of its revelations. If the poor in spirit enter the heavenly kingdom I can imagine how gay it is there. I have seen enough of them on earth. Who else makes up the population of heaven? Swarms of screaming revivalists, grubby monks, lots of rosy, shortsighted souls of more or less Protestant manufacture—what deathly boredom!
…The search for God: the longing of any hound for a master; give me a boss and I shall kneel at his enormous feet. All this is earthly. Father, headmaster, rector, president of the board, tsar, God. Numbers, numbers—and one wants so much to find the biggest number, so that all the rest may mean something and climb somewhere. No, that way you end up in padded dead ends—and everything ceases to be interesting.
055. 311: …In general, there has been nothing in life except getting ready for an examination—which all the same nobody can get ready for.
056. 321: One blamed him for being derisive, supercilious, cold, incapable of thawing to friendly discussions—but that was also said about Koncheyev and about Fyodor himself, and about anyone whose thoughts lived in their own private house and not in a barrack-room or a pub.
057. 332: And still higher above my upturned face, the summits and trunks of the pines participated in a complex exchange of shadows, and their leafage reminded me of algae swaying in transparent water.
058. 333: The awkwardness which which nakedness is usually accompanied depends upon the awareness of our defenseless whiteness, which has long since lost all connection with the colors of the surrounding world and for that reason finds itself in artificial disharmony with it. But the sun’s impact restores the deficiency, makes us equal in our naked rights with nature, and the brazen body no longer experiences shame. All this sounds like a nudist brochure—but one’s own truth is not to blame if it coincides with the truth some poor fellow has borrowed.
059. 334: He got up, took a step—and immediately the weightless paw of a leafy shadow descended upon his left shoulder; it slipped off again at the next step.
060. 340: The real writer should ignore all readers but one, that of the future, who in his turn is merely the author reflected in time.
061. p342: Our mistaken feeling of time as a kind of growth is a consequence of our finiteness which, being always on the level of the present, implies its constant rise between they watery abyss of the future. Existence is thus an eternal transformation of the future into the past—an essentially phantom process—a mere reflection of the material metamorphoses taking place within us. In these circumstances the attempt to comprehend the world is reduced to an attempt to comprehend that which we ourselves have deliberately made incomprehensible. The absurdity at which searching thought arrives is only a natural generic sign of its belonging to man, and striving to obtain an answer is the same as demanding of chicken broth that it begin to cluck.
062. p349: I don’t know why this happens—one writes an address heaps of times, automatically and correctly, and then all of a sudden one hesitates, one looks at it consciously, and one sees you’re not sure of it, it seems unfamiliar—very queer… You know, like taking a simple word, say ‘ceiling’ and seeing it as ‘sealing’ or ‘sea-ling’ until it becomes completely strange and feral, something like ‘iceling’ or ‘inglice.’
063. pp351-2:As always on the border between consciousness and sleep all sorts of verbal rejects, sparkling and tinkling, broke in:’The crystal crunching of that Christian night beneath a chrysolitic star’ … and his thought, listening for a moment, aspired to gather them and use them and began to add of its own: Extinguished, Yasnaya Polyana’s light, and Pushkin dead, and Russia far… but since this was no good, the stipple of rhymes extended further: ‘A falling star, a cruising chrysolite, an aviator’s avatar…’ His mind sanklower and lower into a hell of alligator alliterations, into infernal cooperatives of words. Through the nonsensical accumulation a round button on the pillowcase prodded him in the cheek, he turned on his other side and against a dark backdrop naked people ran into Grunewald lake, and a monogram of light resembling an infusorian glided diagonally to the highest corner of his subpalpebral field of vision. Behind a certain closed door in his brain, holding on to its handle but turning away from it, his mind commenced to discuss with somebody a complicated and important secret, but when the door opened for a minute it turned out that they were talking about chairs, tables, stables. Suddenly in the thickening mist, by reason’s last tollgate, came the silver vibration of a telephone bell, and Fyodor rolled over prone, falling.
064. p358: It was some kind of a national holiday. Three kinds of flags were sticking out of the house windows: black-yellow-red, black-white-red, and plain red; each one meant something, and funniest of all, this something was able to excite pride or hatred in someone,

G Glory
001. x: …the purpose of my novel, my only one with a purpose, lay in stressing the thrill and the glamour that my young expatriate finds in the most ordinary pleasures as well as in the seemingly meaningless adventures of a lonely life.
002. xii: I still cannot reconcile myself to the fact—deserving to be commemorated by an annual pyrotechnical display of contempt and sarcasm—that in the meantime American intellectuals had been conditioned by Bolshevist propaganda into utterly disregarding the vigorous existence of liberal thought among Russian expatriates.
003. xiii: …how cruel to prevent him from finding in art—not an ‘escape’ (which is only a cleaner cell on a quieter floor), but relief from the itch of being!
004. 2: His wife Sofia and their son were living at the time near Yalta: the town kept trying on now one regime, now another, and could not make up its finicky mind.
005. 4: But then what does it matter whence comes the gentle nudge that jars the soul into motion and sets it rolling, doomed never again to stop?
006. 8: The death of his father, whom he did not love much, shocked Martin for the very reason that he did not love him as he should; and besides, he could not rid himself of the thought that his father had died in disgrace. It was then that Martin understood for the first time that human life flowed in zigzags, that now the first bend had been passed.
007. 12: From early childhood his mother had taught him that to discuss in public a profound emotional experience—which, in the open air, immediately evanesces and fades, and, oddly, becomes similar to an analogous experience of one’s interlocutor—was not only vulgar, but also a sin against sentiment.
008. 17: Martin wondered at the night’s adventure, doubted that it had really happened, and promoted it more and more decisively into that realm where all that he selected from the world for the use of his soul would take root and begin living a marvelous, independent existence.
009. 20: To the left, in the murky, mysterious distance, shimmered the diamond lights of Yalta. And when Martin would turn, he saw the flaming restless nest of the fire a short distance away, and the silhouettes of people around it, and someone’s hand adding a branch. The crickets kept crepitating; from time to time there came a sweet whiff of burning juniper; and above the black alpestrine steppe, above the silken sea, the enormous, all-engulfing sky, dove-gray with stars, made one’s head spin, and suddenly Martin again experienced a feeling he had known on more than one occasion as a child: an unbearable intensification of all his senses, a magcal and demanding impulse, the presence of something for which alone it was worth living.
010. 49: A feeling of opulent solitude, which he often had experienced amid crowd—the delight he took in saying to himself: Not one of these people, going bout their business, knows who I am, where I am from, what I am thinking about right now—this feeling was indispensable to complete happiness, …
011. 59: He had furnished his digs himself according to his taste. There were supernaturally comfortable leather armchairs, in which the body would melt as it sank into a yielding abyss.
012. 60: If Martin had ever thought of becoming a writer and been tormented by a writer’s covetousness (so akin to the fear of death), by that constant state of anxiety compelling one to fix indelibly this or that evanescent trifle, perhaps these dissertations on minutiae that were deeply familiar to him might have aroused in him a pang of envy and the desire to write of the same things still better.
013. 62: Human thought, flying on the trapezes of the star-filled universe, with mathematics stretched beneath, was like an acrobat working with a net but suddenly noticing that in reality there is no net, and Martin envied those who attained that vertigo and, with a new calculation, overcame their fear.
014. 62: There were other vaguer fields, such as the mists of law, government, economics. What scared him away from them was that the scintilla he sought in everything was too deeply buried there. Undecided what to undertake, what to select, Martin gradually rejected all that might take a too exclusive hold over him.
015. 63: The prospect of studying wordy, watery works and their influence on other wordy, watery works did not attract him.
016. 79: Martin went out to greet them, and, as generally happened when he encountered Sonia, he instantly had the sensation that he stood in relief against a dark background.
017. 80: On his left Irina fidgeted, scratched her armpit, and uttered sounds of endearment addressed to her cold mutton.
018. 81: Without answering, Martin slammed his door, angrily brushed his teeth, yanked open his bed as if he wanted to throw somebody out of it, and, dispatching the light with a murderous twist of his fingers, pulled the covers over his head.
019. 82: In her room there remained a cloudlet of powder, like the smoke following a shot; a stocking, killed outright, lay under a chair; and the motley innards of the wardrobe had spilled onto the carpet.
020. 88: …she added after a while and separating several pages with a thumb allowed them to mill rapidly…
021. 91: Martin was one of those people for whom a good book before sleep is something to look forward to all day. Such a person, upon happening to recall, amidst routine occupations, that on his bedside table a book is waiting for him, in prefect safety, feels a surge of inexpressible happiness.
022. 92: He looked at his watch, it was close to two. The tension was becoming unbearable. That silence seemed to be waiting: the distant hoot of an automobile horn would have been rapture. The level of silence kept rising, and all at once poured over the brim: someone on tiptoe was coming barefoot along the passage.
023. 93: ‘You know, Martin, she always maintained that the most important thing in life was always to do one’s duty and think of nothing else. It’s a very deep thought, isn’t it?’ ‘Yes, possible,’ Martin replied, shoving the unfinished cigarette into the ashtray with an uncertain hand. ‘Possibly. But sometimes a bit boring.’ ‘Oh, no, not at all—You don’t understand, she didn’t mean work or job, but a kind of—well, the kind of thing which has an inner importance.’
024. 95: Then, a little later, as Martin was on his way downstairs to the dining room to drink his cup of hemlock,…
025. 102: In general, during his last university year, Martin was made aware again and again of the presence of some malevolent force obstinately trying to convince him that life was not at all the easy happy thing he had imagined.
026. 134: When Martin deliberately visited in Berlin that intersection, that square, which he had seen as a child, there was nothing that gave him the least shiver of excitement, but on the other hand, a chance whiff of coal or automobile exhaust, a certain special pale hue of the sky seen through a lace curtain, of the shudder of the windowpanes awakened by a passing truck, instantly brought back the essence of city, hotel, and drab morning, part of an image that Berlin had once impressed upon him.
027. 135: …and any person with a lot of imagination has prophetic daydreams occasionally—such is the statistics of daydreams…
028. 152: …wearing neither overcoat nor hat, with only one bag, left for the station. [Similar to end of Mary]
029. 162: …no matter where he might go, nothing could weaken in him the wonderful sense of being different and elect.
030. 163: Martin regretted that an inner sentinel forbade to his vocal cords the sounds that lived in his ears.
031. 195: …his thoughts wandered about looking for their old dwellings and finding only ruins.
032. 195: Martin found it amazing that anyone could take so much to heart another man’s opinion.
033. 198: Martin realized that Darwin’s recollections had died, or were absent, and the only thing that remained was a discolored signboard.

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