I long to embrace, to include in my own short life, all that is accessible to man. I long to speak, to read, to wield a hammer in a great factory, to keep watch at sea, to plow. I want to be walking along the Nevsky Prospect, or in the open fields, or on the ocean - wherever my imagination ranges.
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In order to cultivate yourself and to drop no lower than the level of the milieu in which you have landed, it is not enough to read Pickwick and memorize a monologue from Faust.... You need to work continually day and night, to read ceaselessly, to study, to exercise your will.... Each hour is precious.
It doesn't matter that your painting is small. Kopecks are also small, but when a lot are put together they make a ruble. Each painting displayed in a gallery and each good book that makes it into a library, no matter how small they may be, serve a great cause: accretion of the national wealth.
You have lost your reason and taken the wrong path. You have taken lies for truth, and hideousness for beauty. You would marvel if, owing to strange events of some sorts, frogs and lizards suddenly grew on apple and orange trees instead of fruit, or if roses began to smell like a sweating horse; so I marvel at you who exchange heaven for earth. I don't want to understand you.
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And I despise your books, I despise wisdom and the blessings of this world. It is all worthless, fleeting, illusory, and deceptive, like a mirage. You may be proud, wise, and fine, but death will wipe you off the face of the earth as though you were no more than mice burrowing under the floor, and your posterity, your history, your immortal geniuses will burn or freeze together with the earthly globe.
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Not only after two or three centuries, but in a million years, life will still be as it was; life does not change, it remains for ever, following its own laws which do not concern us, or which, at any rate, you will never find out. Migrant birds, cranes for example, fly and fly, and whatever thoughts, high or low, enter their heads, they will still fly and not know why or where. They fly and will continue to fly, whatever philosophers come to life among them; they may philosophize as much as they like, only they will fly....
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My mother and father are the only people on the whole planet for whom I will never begrudge a thing. Should I achieve great things, it is the work of their hands; they are splendid people and their absolute love of their children places them above the highest praise. It cloaks all of their shortcomings, shortcomings that may have resulted from a difficult life.
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After us they'll fly in hot air balloons, coat styles will change, perhaps they'll discover a sixth sense and cultivate it, but life will remain the same, a hard life full of secrets, but happy. And a thousand years from now man will still be sighing, "Oh! Life is so hard!" and will still, like now, be afraid of death and not want to die.
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All I wanted was to say honestly to people: 'Have a look at yourselves and see how bad and dreary your lives are!' The important thing is that people should realize that, for when they do, they will most certainly create another and better life for themselves. I will not live to see it, but I know that it will be quite different, quite unlike our present life. And so long as this different life does not exist, I shall go on saying to people again and again: 'Please, understand that your life is bad and dreary!'
If an intelligent, educated, and healthy man begins to complain of his lot and go down-hill, there is nothing for him to do but to go on down until he reaches the bottom--there is no hope for him. Where could my salvation come from? How can I save myself? I cannot drink, because it makes my head ache. I never could write bad poetry. I cannot pray for strength and see anything lofty in the languor of my soul. Laziness is laziness and weakness weakness. I can find no other names for them. I am lost, I am lost; there is no doubt of that.
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My business is to be talented, that is, to be capable of selecting the important moments from the trivial ones. . . . It's about time for writers - particularly those who are genuine artists - to recognize that in this world you cannot figure out everything. Just have a writer who the crowds trust be courageous enough and declare that he does not understand everything, and that alone will represent a major contribution to the way people think, a long leap forward.
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Yakov spent the whole day playing his fiddle; when it got completely dark, he took the notebook in which he recorded his losses daily, and out of boredom began adding up the yearly total. It came to over a thousand roubles. This astounded him so much that he flung the abacus to the floor and stamped his feet. Then he picked up the abacus, again clicked away for a long time, and sighed deeply and tensely. His face was purple and wet with sweat. He thought that if he could have put that lost thousand roubles in the bank, he would have earned at least forty roubles a year in interest. And therefore those forty roubles were a loss. In short, wherever you turned, there was nothing but losses everywhere. - Rothchild's Fiddle
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Why are we worn out? Why do we, who start out so passionate, brave, noble, believing, become totally bankrupt by the age of thirty or thirty-five? Why is it that one is extinguished by consumption, another puts a bullet in his head, a third seeks oblivion in vodka, cards, a fourth, in order to stifle fear and anguish, cynically tramples underfoot the portrait of his pure, beautiful youth? Why is it that, once fallen, we do not try to rise, and, having lost one thing, we do not seek another? Why?
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But if we reason it out simply and not try to be one bit fancy, then what sort of pride can you possibly take or what's the sense of ever having it, if man is poorly put together as a physiological type and if the enormous majority of the human race is brutal, stupid, and profoundly unhappy?
Anna Petrovna: Do you know what, Kolya? Try and sing, laugh, get angry, as you once did... You stay in, we'll laugh and drink fruit liqueur and we'll drive away your depression in a flash. I'll sing if you like. Or else let's go and sit in the dark in your study as we used to, and you'll tell me about your depression... You have such suffering eyes. I'll look into them and cry, and we'll both feel better.
But the permitting, the authorizing of something always concealed an element of dubiousness for him, something vague and not quite spoken. When a dramatic circle, a reading room or tearoom was permitted in town, he would shake his head and say softly: 'That's very well, of course, it's all splendid, but something may come of it.' - The Man in a Case
You don't understand, you fool' says Yegor, looking dreamily up at the sky. 'You've never understood what kind of person I am, nor will you in a million years... You just think I'm a mad person who has thrown his life away... Once the free spirit has taken hold of a man, there's no way of getting it out of him.
He keeps going, going, going on; his people groan and fall one after the other, but he keeps on going, going and in the end, perishes himself, but still remains the despot and tsar of the desert because the cross over his grave is visible to caravans thirty-forty miles away and reigns over the wasteland.
Ivanov: A naive man is a fool. But you women are clever enough to be naive so that it comes out in you as engaging and healthy and warm, and not so silly as it might seem. Only why do you all behave like this? While a man is healthy and strong and in good spirits, you pay him no attention, but as soon as he rolls down the slippery slope and starts complaining about his woes, you hang on his neck.
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Nadya Zelenin and her mother had returned from a performance of Eugene Onegin at the theatre. Going into her room, the girl swiftly threw off her dress and let her hair down. Then she quickly sat at the table in her petticoat and white bodice to write a letter like Tatyana's. 'I love you, ' she wrote, 'but you don't love me, you don't love me!' Having written this, she laughed. She was only sixteen and had never loved anyone yet. She knew that Gorny (an army officer) and Gruzdyov (a student) were both in love with her, but now, after the opera, she wanted to doubt their love. To be unloved and miserable: what an attractive idea! There was something beautiful, touching and romantic about A loving B when B wasn't interested in A. Onegin was attractive in not loving at all, while Tatyana was enchanting because she loved greatly. Had they loved equally and been happy they might have seemed boring. ("After The Theatre")
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In qualche luogo, non lontano, cantava una donna. Dove e da che parte, era difficile capire. Il canto sommesso, lento, malinconico, simile a un pianto e percepibile appena, si faceva udire ora a destra ora a sinistra, ora dall'alto, ora sembrava sottoterra, come se dovunque nella steppa si librasse uno spirito invisibile, e cantasse.
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In all nature there seemed to be a feeling of hopelessness and pain. The earth, like a ruined woman sitting alone in a dark room and trying not to think of the past, was brooding over memories of spring and summer and apathetically waiting for the inevitable winter. Wherever one looked, on all sides, nature seemed like a dark, infinitely deep, cold pit from which neither Kirilov nor Abogin nor the red half-moon could escape...
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As a rule, however fine and deep a phrase may be, it only affects the indifferent, and cannot fully satisfy those who are happy or unhappy; that is why dumbness is most often the highest expression of happiness or unhappiness; lovers understand each other better when they are silent, and a fervent, passionate speech delivered by the grave only touches outsiders, while to the widow and children of the dead man it seems cold and trivial.
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She stood in awe of her elder daughter. Lida was never tender, she spoke only about serious things; she lived her own separate life and for her mother and sister was as sacred and slightly mysterious a personage as an admiral who always remains in his cabin is for his sailors. - The House with the Mezzanine
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Ivanov: And this whole romance of ours is commonplace and trite: he lost heart, and he lost his way. She came along, strong and brave in spirit, and gave him an helping hand. That's all very well and plausible in novels, but in life... Sasha: In life it's the same. Ivanov: I see you have a fine understanding of life!