Daniil Kharms




(1) Blue Notebook No. 10
(or 'The Red-Haired Man')

There was a red-haired man who had no eyes or ears. Neither did he have any hair, so he was called red-haired theoretically.
He couldn't speak, since he didn't have a mouth. Neither did he have a nose.
He didn't even have any arms or legs. He had no stomach and he had no back and he had no spine and he had no innards whatsoever. He had nothing at all! Therefore there's no knowing whom we are even talking about.
In fact it's better that we don't say any more about him.


(2) Incidents

One day Orlov stuffed himself with mashed peas and died. And Krylov, on finding out about this, also died. And Spiridonov died of his own accord. And Spiridonov's wife fell off the sideboard and also died. And Spiridonov's children drowned in the pond. And Spiridonov's grandmother hit the bottle and took to the road. And Mikhailovich stopped combing his hair and went down with mange. And Kruglov sketched a woman with a whip in her hands and went out of his mind. And Perekhrestov received four hundred roubles by wire and put on such airs that he got chucked out of work.
They are good people all -- but they can't keep their feet firmly on the ground.


(3) The Plummeting Old Women

A certain old woman, out of excessive curiosity, fell out of a window, plummeted to the ground, and was smashed to pieces.
Another old woman leaned out of the window and began looking at the remains of the first one, but she also, out of excessive curiosity, fell out of the window, plummeted to the ground and was smashed to pieces.
Then a third old woman plummeted from the window, then a fourth, then a fifth.
By the time a sixth old woman had plummeted down, I was fed up watching them, and went off to Mal'tsevisky Market where, it was said, a knitted shawl had been given to a certain blind man.

(4) A Sonnet

A surprising thing happened to me: I suddenly forgot which comes first -- 7 or 8.
I went off to the neighbours and asked them what they thought on the subject.
Just imagine their and my surprise when they suddenly discovered that they too couldn't recall how to count: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 they remembered, but they'd forgotten what followed.
We all went to the overpriced food shop, the Gastronom on the corner of Znamenskaya and Basseynaya street, and put our quandary to the cashier. The cashier smiled sadly, pulled a small hammer out of her mouth and, twitching her nose a bit, said -- I should think seven comes after eight whenever eight comes after seven.
We thanked the cashier and joyfully ran out of the shop. But then, having thought about the cashier's words, we got depressed again, since her words seemed to us to be devoid of any sense.
What were we to do? We went to the Summer Garden and started counting the trees there. But, getting as far as 6, we stopped and began to argue: in the opinion of some, 7 came next, and in the opinion of others -- 8.
We would have argued for ages, but fortunately then some child fell off a park bench and broke both his jaw-bones. This distracted us from our argument.
And then we dispersed homewards.


(5) Petrov and Kamarov

Petrov: Hey, Kamarov, old chap!
Let's catch a few of these gnats!
Kamarov: No, I'm not yet up to that;
We'd do better to catch some tom-cats!

(6) The Optical Illusion

Semyon Semyonovich, with his glasses on, looks at a pine tree and he sees: in the pine tree sits a peasant showing him his fist.
Semyon Semyonovich, with his glasses off, looks at the pine tree and sees that there is no one sitting in the pine tree.
Semyon Semyonovich, with his glasses on, looks at the pine tree and again sees that in the pine tree sits a peasant showing him his fist.
Semyon Semyonovich, with his glasses off, again sees that there is no one sitting in the pine tree.
Semyon Semyonovich, with his glasses on again, looks at the pine tree and again sees that in the pine tree sits a peasant showing him his fist.
Semyon Semyonovich doesn't wish to believe in this phenomenon and considers this phenomenon an optical illusion.


(7) Pushkin and Gogol

GOGOL falls out from the wings on to the stage and quietly lies there.
PUSHKIN appears on stage, stumbles over GOGOL and falls.
PUSHKIN: What the devil! Seems I've tripped over Gogol!
GOGOL (Getting up): What a vile abomination! You can't even have a rest. (Walks off, stumbles over PUSHKIN and falls) Seems I've stumbled over Pushkin!
PUSHKIN (Getting up): Not a minute's peace! (Walks off, stumbles over GOGOL and falls) What the devil! Seems I've tripped over Gogol again!
GOGOL (Getting up): Always an obstacle in everything! (Walks off, stumbles over PUSHKIN and falls) It's a vile abomination! Tripped over Pushkin again!
PUSHKIN (Getting up): Hooliganism! Sheer hooliganism! (Walks off, stumbles over GOGOL and falls) What the devil! Tripped over Gogol again!
GOGOL (Getting up): It's sheer mockery! (Walks off, stumbles over PUSHKIN and falls) Tripped over Pushkin again!
PUSHKIN (Getting up): What the devil! Well, really, what the devil! (Walks off, stumbles over GOGOL and falls) Over Gogol!
GOGOL (Getting up): Vile abomination! (Walks off, stumbles over PUSHKIN and falls) Over Pushkin!
PUSHKIN (Getting up): What the devil! (Walks off, stumbles over GOGOL and falls into the wings) Over Gogol!
GOGOL (Getting up): Vile abomination! (Walks off into wings; from offstage) Over Pushkin!


(8) The Carpenter Kushakov

Once there was a carpenter. He was called Kushakov.
One day he left his house and went off to the shop to buy some carpenter's glue.
There had been a thaw and it was very slippery on the street.
The carpenter took a few steps, slipped, fell down and cracked his forehead open.
-- Ugh! -- said the carpenter, got up, went off to the chemist's, bought a plaster and stuck it on his forehead.
But when he went out on to the street he again slipped, fell and smashed his nose.
-- Huh! -- said the carpenter, went off to the chemist's, bought a plaster and stuck the plaster over his nose.
Then he went out on to the street again, again slipped, fell and cracked open his cheek.
Once again he had to go off to the chemist's and stick a plaster over his cheek.
-- Well, then -- the chemist said to the carpenter -- you seem to fall and hurt yourself so often, that I would advise you to buy several plasters while you are at it.
-- No -- said the carpenter -- I'm not going to fall any more!
But when he went out on to the street he slipped again, fell and smashed his chin.
-- Damn these icy patches! -- exclaimed the carpenter and again ran off to the chemist's.
-- There you are, you see -- said the chemist. -- You've gone and fallen again.
-- Not at all! -- shouted the carpenter. -- I won't hear another word! Give me a plaster, and hurry up!
The chemist handed over a plaster; the carpenter stuck it on his chin and ran off home.
But at home they didn't recognize him and wouldn't let him into the flat.
-- I'm the carpenter Kushakov! -- the carpenter shouted.
-- Pull the other one! -- was the reply from the flat and they fastened the door, both with the key and with the chain.
The carpenter Kushakov stood on the staircase for a flit, spat and went off down the street.

(9) The Trunk

A thin-necked man climbed into a trunk, shut the lid behind him and began gasping for breath.
-- So -- said the thin-necked man, gasping for breath -- I am gasping for breath in this trunk because I've got a thin neck. The lid of the trunk is down and isn't letting any air in. I shall be gasping for breath, but all the same I won't open the lid of the trunk. I shall be gradually dying. I shall see the struggle of life and death. The battle which takes place will be an unnatural one, with the chances equal, because under natural conditions death triumphs, and life, doomed to death, merely struggles in vain with the enemy, clinging until the last minute to a futile hope. But in the struggle which will take place now, life will be cognizant of the means of victory: to achieve this life will have to force my hands to open the lid of the trunk. We shall see who will win! Only there's an awful smell of naphthalene. If life triumphs I shall powder all the things in the trunk with makhorka.* So, it has begun: I can't breathe any more. I'm finished, that's clear. There's no saving me now! And there are no lofty thoughts in my head. I'm suffocating.
-- Hey! What's that then? Something just happened but I can't make out exactly what. I saw something or heard something . . .
-- Hey! Something happened again. My God! There's nothing to breathe. It seems I'm dying . . .
-- And now what's that then? Why am I singing? My neck seems to be hurting . . . But where's the trunk? Why can I see all the things in the room? And I seem to be lying on the floor. But where's the trunk?
The man with the thin neck got up from the floor and looked round. The trunk was nowhere around. On the chairs and on the bed lay things which had been pulled out of the trunk, but the trunk was nowhere around.
The thin-necked man said: -- So, life has triumphed over death by means unknown to me.
* makhorka -- cheap, coarse tobacco.

(10) The Incident with Petrakov

And so on one occasion Petrakov wanted to lie down for a sleep but, lying down, he missed the bed. He hit the floor so hard that he just lies on the floor and can't get up.
And so Petrakov made a supreme effort and got up on all fours. But his strength deserted him and he again fell down on his stomach and just lies there.
Petrakov lay on the floor for five hours. At first he just lay there and then he fell asleep.
Sleep restored Petrakov's energy. He awoke completely refreshed, got up, walked up and down the room and lay down cautiously on the bed. 'Well -- he thought -- now I'll have a sleep.' But he just didn't feel sleepy. Petrakov turns over on to one side and then the other, but cannot get to sleep at all.
And that's just about it.

(11) The Story of the Fighting Men

Aleksey Alekseyevich held Andrey Karlovich down in a crushing lock and, having smashed him in the mug, let him go.
Andrey Karlovich, pale with fury, flung himself at Aleksey Alekseyevich and banged him in the teeth.
Aleksey Alekseyevich, not expecting such a swift onslaught, collapsed on the floor, whereupon Andrey Karlovich sat astride him, pulled his set of dentures from his mouth and gave Aleksey Alekseyevich such a going over with them that Aleksey Alekseyevich rose from the floor with his face completely mutilated and his nostril ripped open. Holding his face in his hands, Aleksey Alekseyevich ran off.
Whereas Andrey Karlovich gave his dentures a rub, inserted them in his mouth with a click of the teeth and, having satisfied himself as to the placement of his dentures, he took stock of his surroundings and, not seeing Aleksey Alekseyevich, set off in search of him.


(12) The Dream

Kalugin fell asleep and had a dream that he was sitting in some bushes and a policeman was walking past the bushes.
Kalugin woke up, scratched his mouth and went to sleep again and had another dream that he was walking past some bushes and that a policeman had hidden in the bushes and was sitting there.
Kalugin woke up, put a newspaper under his head, so as not to wet the pillow with his dribblings, and went to sleep again; and again he had a dream that he was sitting in some bushes and a policeman was walking past the bushes.
Kalugin woke up, changed the newspaper, lay down and went to sleep again. He fell asleep and had another dream that he was walking past some bushes and a policeman was sitting in the bushes.
At this point Kalugin woke up and decided not to sleep any more, but he immediately fell asleep and had a dream that he was sitting behind a policeman and some bushes were walking past.
Kalugin let out a yell and tossed about in bed but couldn't wake up.
Kalugin slept straight through for four days and four nights and on the fifth day he awoke so emaciated that he had to tie his boots to his feet with string, so that they didn't fall off. In the bakery where Kalugin always bought wheaten bread, they didn't recognize him and handed him a half-rye loaf.
And a sanitary commission which was going round the apartments, on catching sight of Kalugin, decided that he was unsanitary and no use for anything and instructed the janitors to throw Kalugin out with the rubbish.
Kalugin was folded in two and thrown out as rubbish.


(13) The Mathematician and Andrey Semyonovich

MATHEMATICIAN (Pulling a ball out of his head):
I've pulled a ball out of my head.
I've pulled a ball out of my head.
I've pulled a ball out of my head.
I've pulled a ball out of my head.
Put it back.
Put it back.
Put it back.
Put it back.
No, I won't!
No, I won't!
No, I won't!
No, I won't!
Well, don't then.
Well, don't then.
Well, don't then.
So I won't, then!
So I won't, then!
So I won't, then!
Well, that's okay.
Well, that's okay.
Well, that's okay.
So, I won!
So, I won!
So, I won!
All right, you won, so now calm down!
No, I won't calm down!
No, I won't calm down!
No, I won't calm down!
You may be a mathematician but, my word, you're not very bright.
No, I'm bright and I know an awful lot!
No, I'm bright and I know an awful lot!
No, I'm bright and I know an awful lot!
A lot, yes, only it's all rubbish.
No, it's not rubbish!
No, it's not rubbish!
No, it's not rubbish!
I'm fed up with arguing with you!
No, I'm not fed up!
No, I'm not fed up!
No, I'm not fed up!
ANDREY SEMYONOVICH waves his hand in annoyance and walks away. The MATHEMATICIAN, after standing for a minute, walks off after ANDREY SEMYONOVICH.


(14) The Young Man who Astonished a Watchman

-- Look at that! -- said the watchman, examining a fly. -- If I smeared it with carpenter's glue, then that would very likely be the end of it. What a laugh! Just with a bit of glue!
-- Hey you, leprechaun! -- a young man in yellow gloves hailed the watchman.
The watchman immediately realized that this was addressed to him, but he continued looking at the fly.
-- I'm talking to you, aren't I? -- the young man shouted again. -- You yahoo!
The watchman crushed the fly with his finger and, without turning his head to the young man, said:
-- Who do you think you're bawling at, you cheeky bugger? I can hear you all right. There's no need to bawl like that!
The young man brushed his trousers down with his gloves and asked, in a refined voice: -- Tell me, old chap, how do I get to heaven from here?
The watchman stared at the young man, screwed up one eye, then screwed up the other, then scratched his beard, stared at the young man again and said: -- There's nothing to hang about here for, go on, on your way.
-- Excuse me -- said the young man -- it's an urgent matter for me. There's even a room ready booked for me there.
-- Okay -- said the watchman -- show me your ticket.
-- I haven't got a ticket on me; they said I'd be let in, just like that -- said the young man, looking the watchman in the eye.
-- Look at that! -- said the watchman.
-- So, what about it, then? -- said the young man. -- Are you going to let me through?
-- Okay, okay -- said the watchman. -- Go on, then.
-- And how do I get there? Where is it? -- asked the young man. -- You see, I don't know the way.
-- Where do you need to go? -- asked the watchman, putting on a severe look.
The young man covered his face with the palm of his hand and said very quietly: -- To heaven!
The watchman leaned forward, moved his right leg so as to stand up more firmly, looked at the young man intently and asked sternly:
-- What are you doing? Playing the bloody fool?
The young man smiled, raised his hand in its yellow glove, waved it above his head and suddenly disappeared.
The watchman sniffed the air. There was a smell of burnt feathers in the air.
-- Look at that! -- said the watchman; he unzipped his jerkin, scratched his stomach, spat on the spot where the young man had stood and slowly went off to his hut.


(15) Four Illustrations of How a New Idea Disconcerts a Man Unprepared for It*

WRITER: I'm a writer.
READER: In my opinion you're shit!
THE WRITER stands for a few minutes, shaken by this new idea, and falls down in a dead faint. He is carried out.
ARTIST: I'm an artist.
WORKER: In my opinion you're shit!
THE ARTIST turns as white as a sheet, sways like a thin reed and unexpectedly expires. He is carried out.
COMPOSER: I am a composer.
VANYA RUBLYOV: In my opinion you are . . .!
THE COMPOSER, breathing heavily, sank back. He is unexpectedly carried out.
CHEMIST: I'm a chemist.
PHYSICIST: In my opinion you're . . .!
THE CHEMIST said not another word and collapsed heavily to the floor.
*The story is motivated by the communist regime's "proletarian" policy toward arts and sciences.

(16) Losses

Andrey Andreyevich Myasov bought a wick at the market and carried it off homewards.
On the way, Andrey Andreyevich lost the wick and went into a shop to buy 150 grams of Poltava sausage. Then Andrey Andreyevich went into the dairy and bought a bottle of curds, then he drank a small mug of kvass at a stall and joined the queue for a newspaper. The queue was a rather long one and Andrey Andreyevich stood for no less than twenty minutes in the queue, and when he reached the newspaper seller the newspaper ran out right in front of his nose.
Andrey Andreyevich was stymied and he went off home, but on the way he lost the curds and dropped into the bakery, where he bought a stick of French bread, but lost the Poltava sausage.
Then Andrey Andreyevich went straight home, but on the way he fell down, lost the French bread and broke his pince-nez.
Andrey Andreyevich reached home in a very bad mood and straight away went to bed, but could not get to sleep for a long time and when he did get to sleep he had a dream: he dreamt that he had lost his toothbrush and that he was cleaning his teeth with some sort of a candlestick.

(17) Makarov and Petersen
(subtitled 'No. 3')

MAKAROV: Here, in this book, is written all concerning our desires and their fulfillment. Read this book, and you will understand how empty are our desires. You will also understand how easy it is to fulfill another's desire and how difficult to fulfill one's own desire.
PETERSEN: You didn't half say that solemnly. That's how Indian chiefs speak.
MAKAROV: This is such a book that it must be spoken of in elevated tones. When I so much as think of it I take off my hat.
PETERSEN: Do you wash your hands before you touch it, then?
MAKAROV: Yes, and the hands must be washed.
PETERSEN: You ought to wash your feet, to be on the safe side.
MAKAROV: That was most unwitty and rude.
PETERSEN: But what is this book?
MAKAROV: The name of this book is secret . . .
PETERSEN: Tee-hee-hee!
MAKAROV: This book is called Malghil.
PETERSEN vanishes.
MAKAROV: Good Lord! What's this, then? Petersen!
VOICE OF PETERSEN: What's happened? Makarov! Where are you?
MAKAROV: Where are you? I can't see you.
VOICE OF PETERSEN: And where are you? I can't see you either. What are these spheres?
MAKAROV: What can we do? Petersen, can you hear me?
VOICE OF PETERSEN: I can hear you! But whatever's happened? And what are these spheres?
MAKAROV: Can you move?
VOICE OF PETERSEN: Makarov! Can you see these spheres?
MAKAROV: What spheres?
VOICE OF PETERSEN: Let me go! . . . Let me go! . . . Makarov!
Silence. MAKAROV stands in horror, then grabs the book and opens it.
MAKAROV: (Reads) . . . 'Gradually man loses his form and becomes a sphere. And, once a sphere, man loses all his desires.'


(18) A Lynching

Petrov gets on his horse and, addressing the crowd, makes a speech about what will happen if, in the place where the public park now is, an American skyscraper will be built. The crowd listens and evidently is in agreement. Petrov notes down something for himself in his notebook. From the crowd there may be distinguished a man of average height who asks Petrov what he has written down for himself in his notebook. Petrov replies that this concerns only himself. The man of average height persists. One word leads to another: and a strife ensues. The crowd takes the side of the man of average height and Petrov, to save his hide, urges on his horse and makes off round the bend. The crowd gets agitated and, for the lack of another victim, grabs the man of average height and tears off his head. The torn off head rolls down the pavement and gets stuck in an open drain. The crowd, having satisfied its passions, disperses.

(19) An Encounter

On one occasion a man went off to work and on the way he met another man who, having bought a loaf of Polish bread, was going his way home.
And that's just about all there is to it.

(20) An Unsuccessful Show

On to the stage comes PETRAKOV-GORBUNOV, who wants to say something but hiccups. He starts to throw up. He leaves. Enter PRITYKIN.
PRITYKIN: Our esteemed Petrakov-Gorbunov has to ann . . . (He throws up and runs off stage.)
MAKAROV: Yegor . . . (Makarov throws up. fife runs off.)
SERPUKHOV: So as not to be . . . (He throws up and runs off.)
KUROVA: I would have . . . (She throws up and runs off.)
LITTLE GIRL: Daddy asked me to let you all know that the theatre is closing. We are all being sick!

(21) Clunk

Summer. A writing table. A door to the right. A picture on the wall.
The picture is a drawing of a horse, the horse has a gypsum in its teeth. OLGA PETROVNA is chopping wood. At every blow Olga Petrovna's pince-nez leaps from her nose. YEVDOKIM OSIPOVICH is seated in an armchair smoking.
OLGA PETROVNA: (Strikes with the chopper at the log, which, however, does not as much as splinter)
OLGA PETROVNA: (Putting on her pince-nez, swipes at the log)
OLGA PETROVNA: (Putting on her pince-nez, swipes at the log)
OLGA PETROVNA: (Putting on her pince-nez, swipes at the log)
OLGA PETROVNA: (Putting on her pince-nez) Yevdokim Osipovich! I implore you, don't keep saying that word 'clunk'.
YEVDOKIM OSIPOVICH: Very well, very well.
OLGA PETROVNA: (Striking with the chopper at the log)
OLGA PETROVNA: Yevdokim Osipovich. You promised not to keep saying that word 'clunk'.
YEVDOKIM OSIPOVICH: Very well, very well, Olga Petrovna. I won't any more.
OLGA PETROVNA: (Striking with the chopper at log)
OLGA PETROVNA: (Putting on her pince-nez) This is disgraceful. A grown-up, middle-aged man, and he doesn't understand a simple human request.
YEVDOKIM OSIPOVICH: Olga Petrovna! You may carry on with your work in peace. I won't disturb you any more.
OLGA PETROVNA: I implore you, I really implore you: let me chop this log at least.
YEVDOKIM OSIPOVICH: Chop away, of course you can, chop away.
OLGA PETROVNA: (Striking with chopper at log)
OLGA PETROVNA drops the chopper, opens her mouth, but is unable lo say anything. YEVDOKIM OSIPOVICH gets up from the armchair, looks OLGA PETROVNA up and down and slowly walks away. OLGA PETROVNA Stays immobile, mouth open, and gazes after the retreating YEVDOKIM OSIPOVICH.
(Slow curtain)

(22) What They Sell in the Shops These Days

Koratygin came to see Tikakeyev but didn't find him in.
At that time Tikakeyev was at the shop buying sugar, meat and cucumbers.
Koratygin hung about by Tikakeyev's door and was just thinking of scribbling a note when he suddenly looked up to see Tikakeyev himself coming, carrying in his arms an oilskin bag.
Koratygin spotted Tikakeyev and shouted: -- I've been waiting for you a whole hour!
-- That's not true -- said Tikakeyev -- I've only been out of the house twenty-five minutes.
-- Well, I don't know about that -- said Koratygin -- except that I've already been here a whole hour.
-- Don't tell lies -- said Tikakeyev -- you should be ashamed to lie.
-- My dear fellow! -- said Koratygin -- Be so good as to be a little more particular with your expressions.
-- I consider ... -- began Tikakeyev, but Koratygin interrupted him:
-- If you consider . . . -- he said, but at this point Tikakeyev interrupted Koratygin and said:
-- A fine one you are!
These words put Koratygin into such a frenzy that he pressed a finger against one of his nostrils and through his other nostril blew snot at Tikakeyev.
Then Tikakeyev pulled the biggest cucumber out of his bag and hit Koratygin across the head with it.
Koratygin clutched at his head with his hands, fell down and died.
That's the size of the cucumbers sold in the shops these days!

(23) Mashkin Killed Koshkin

Comrade Koshkin danced around Comrade Mashkin.
Comrade Mashkin followed Comrade Koshkin with his eyes.
Comrade Koshkin insultingly waved his arms and repulsively shook his legs.
Comrade Mashkin put on a frown.
Comrade Koshkin twitched his belly and stamped his right foot.
Comrade Mashkin let out a cry and flung himself at Comrade Koshkin.
Comrade Koshkin tried to run away, but stumbled and was overtaken by Comrade Mashkin.
Comrade Mashkin struck Comrade Koshkin on the head with his fist.
Comrade Koshkin let out a cry and fell to his hands and knees.
Comrade Mashkin put the boot in to Comrade Koshkin under the belly and once more struck him across the skull with his fist.
Comrade Koshkin measured his length on the floor and died.
Mashkin killed Koshkin.

(24) Sleep Teases a Man

Markov took off his boots and, with a deep breath, lay down on the divan.
He felt sleepy but, as soon as he closed his eyes, the desire for sleep immediately passed. Markov opened his eyes and stretched out his hand for a book. But sleep again came over him and, not even reaching the book, Markov lay down and once more closed his eyes. But, the moment his eyes closed, sleepiness left him again and his consciousness became so clear that Markov could solve in his head algebraical problems involving equations with two unknown quantities.
Markov was tormented for quite some time, not knowing what to do: should he sleep or should he liven himself up? Finally, exhausted and thoroughly sick of himself and his room, Markov put on his coat and hat, took his walking cane and went out on to the street. The fresh breeze calmed Makarov down, he became rather more at one with himself and felt like going back home to his room.
Upon going into his room, he experienced an agreeable bodily fatigue and felt like sleeping. But, as soon as he lay down on the divan and closed his eyes, his sleepiness instantly evaporated.
In a fury, Markov jumped up from his divan and, hatless and coatless, raced off in the direction of Tavrichesky Park.

(25) The Hunters

Six men went hunting, but only four returned.
Two, in fact, hadn't returned.
Oknov, Kozlov, Stryuchkov and Motylkov returned home safely, but Shirokov and Kablukov perished on the hunt.
OKNOV went around very upset the whole day and wouldn't even talk to anyone. Kozlov walked round behind Oknov with great persistence, badgering him with all manner of questions, by which means he drove Oknov to a point of extreme irritation.
KOZLOV: Do you fancy a smoke?
KOZLOV: Do you want me to bring you that thing over there?
KOZLOV: Perhaps you'd like me to tell you a funny story?
KOZLOV: Well, do you want a drink? I've got some tea and cognac here.
OKNOV: Not content with just having smashed you over the skull with this stone, I'll rip your leg off as well.
STRYUCHKOV AND MOTYLKOV: What are you doing? What are you doing?
KOZLOV: Pick me up from the ground.
MOTYLKOV: Don't you get excited now, that wound will heal.
KOZLOV: And where's Oknov?
OKNOV (Ripping off Kozlov's leg): I'm right here.
KOZLOV: Oh, my gosh golly!
STRYUCHKOV AND MOTYLKOV: Seems he's ripped the leg off him as well!
OKNOV: Ripped it off and thrown it over there!
STRYUCHKOV: That's atrocious!
OKNOV: Wha-at?
STRYUCHKOV: ...ocious...
OKNOV: What's that?
STRYUCHKOV: N-n... n-n... nothing.
KOZLOV: How am I going to get home?
MOTYLKOV: Don't worry, we'll fix a wooden leg on you!
STRYUCHKOV: What are you like at standing on one leg?
KOZLOV: I can do it, but I'm no great shakes at it.
STRYUCHKOV: That's all right, we'll support you.
OKNOV: Let me get at him.
STRYUCHKOV: Hey, no. You'd better go away!
OKNOV: No, let me through! ... Let me!... Let... That's what I wanted to do.
OKNOV: Ha, ha, ha.
MOTYLKOV: But where is Kozlov?
STRYUCHKOV: He's crawled off into the bushes!
MOTYLKOV: Kozlov, are you there?
KOZLOV: Glug-glug!
MOTYLKOV: Now look what's become of him!
STRYUCHKOV: What's to be done with him?
MOTYLKOV: Well, we can't do a thing with him, now. In my view, we'd better just strangle him. Kozlov! Hey, Kozlov! Can you hear me?
KOZLOV: O-oh, yes, but only just barely.
MOTYLKOV: Don't you upset yourself mate, we're just going to strangle you. Wait a minute, now! . . . There, there, there we are.
STRYUCHKOV: Here we are, and again! That's the way, yes! Come on, a bit more . . . Now, that's that!
MOTYLKOV: That's that, then!
OKNOV: Lord have mercy on him!

(26) An Historical Episode

for V. N. Petrov

Ivan Ivanovich Susanin (that same historical personage who laid down his life for the tsar and was subsequently extolled by Glinka's opera) once went into a Russian hostelry and, having sat down at a table, ordered himself an entrecote. While the hostelry host grilled the entrecote, Ivan Ivanovich snatched at his beard with his teeth and fell to thinking, as was his wont.
Thirty-five poles of time elapsed and mine host brought Ivan Ivanovich his entrecote on a round wooden platter. Ivan Ivanovich was hungry and, as was the custom of the time, grabbed the entrecote with his hands and began to eat it. But, in his haste to satisfy his hunger, Ivan Ivanovich fell upon the entrecote so greedily that he forgot to pull his beard out of his mouth and consumed along with the entrecote a clump of his own beard.
And hereby arose great unpleasantness, as not fifteen poles of time had elapsed when a powerful gripe attacked Ivan Ivanovich's stomach. Ivan Ivanovich leaped up from the table and charged into the yard. Mine host began shouting to Ivan Ivanovich: -- Lo, what a tufty beard you have. -- But Ivan Ivanovich, paying no attention to anything, ran on into the yard.
Then the boyar Kovshegub, sitting in a corner of the hostelry drinking malt liquor, banged his fist on the table and yelled: -- Who be he?
And mine host, bowing low, answered the boyar: he be our patriot Ivan Ivanovich Susanin.
-- You don't say -- said the boyar, drinking up his malt liquor.
-- Care for a bit of fish? -- asked mine host.
-- Frig thee off! -- shouted the boyar and loosed a ladle at mine host. The ladle whistled past the head of mine host, flew out the window to the yard and smashed Ivan Ivanovich, sitting there in eagle-like pose, right in the teeth. Ivan Ivanovich clutched at his cheek with one hand and rolled on his side.
At this point Karp ran out of the stables on the right and, jumping over a trough in which, amid the slops, lay a pig, with a yell ran off towards the gates. Mine host looked out from the hostelry. -- What are you bawling for? -- he asked Karp. But Karp, not answering at all, ran away.
Mine host went out to the yard and spotted Susanin lying motionless on the ground. Mine host approached closer and looked him in the face. Susanin stared back at mine host.
-- So, be you in one piece? -- asked mine host.
-- One piece, yea, but I'm worried what might clobber me next -- said Susanin.
-- No -- said mine host -- don't worry. It were the boyar Kovshegub who half killed you, but he's gorn now.
-- Well, thankee God for that! -- said Ivan Susanin, getting up off the ground. -- A valiant man I may be, but I don't care to risk my guts for nowt. So I hugged the ground and waited: what next? First sign, and I'd have crawled right off on my guts all the way to Yeldyrin Dwellings... Ee-eek, what a swollen cheek. Oh my gawd! Half me beard's torn off!
-- Oh, ye were like that before -- said mine host.
-- What d'yer mean it were like it before? -- screamed the patriot Susanin. -- What, you reckon I go around so, with a tufty beard?
-- Aye, so -- said mine host.
-- Oh, a pox on you -- muttered Ivan Susanin.
Mine host narrowed his eyes and, arms aflail, he sailed into Susanin and took a swing across his ear. The patriot Susanin collapsed and did not move an inch. -- Take that! Pox yourself -- said mine host and retired within his hostelry.
For a few notches of time Susanin lay on the ground just listening but, hearing nothing suspicious, he cautiously raised his head and took stock. There was no one in the yard, unless we count the pig, which, having scrambled out of the trough, was now rolling in a filthy puddle. Ivan Susanin, with occasional backward glances, stealthily approached the gates. Luckily the gates were open and the patriot Ivan Susanin, writhing wormlike over the ground, crawled off in the direction of Yeldyrin Dwellings.
Here then is an episode from the life of the celebrated personage who laid down his life for the tsar and was subsequently extolled in Glinka's opera.


The story refers to a Russian opera classic "Life for the Tsar" by M. Glinka, which depicts the heroic behavior of a peasant Ivan Susanin during a war against Polish invaders.

(27) Fedya Davidovich

Fedya kept prowling round the butter-dish and finally, seizing the moment when his wife was bending over to cut a toe-nail, he quickly, in a single movement, took all the butter out of the butter-dish with his finger and shoved it into his mouth. As he was covering the butter-dish, Fedya accidentally clattered the lid: his wife straightened up immediately and, spotting the empty butter-dish, pointed at it with the scissors, saying in a severe tone: -- The butter's not in the butter-dish. Where is it?
Fedya's eyes flashed in surprise and, extending his neck, he had a look into the butter-dish.
-- That's butter you've got in your mouth -- said his wife, pointing the scissors at Fedya.
Fedya began shaking his head in denial.
-- Aha -- said his wife -- you say nothing and shake your head because your mouth's full of butter.
Fedya's eyes widened in astonishment and he waved his hands dismissively at his wife, as if to say -- What do you mean? It's nothing of the kind.
But his wife said: -- You're lying. Open your mouth.
-- Mm, mm -- said Fedya.
-- Open your mouth -- his wife repeated.
Fedya spread his fingers and mumbled something, as if to say -- Ah yes, I almost forgot, I'll be back in a sec . . . -- and stood up, intending to leave the room.
-- Stay where you are! -- snapped his wife.
But Fedya quickened his step and slipped out of the door. His wife darted after him but, since she was naked, she stopped by the door as in that condition she could not go out into the corridor, where other tenants of the apartment would be walking up and down.
-- He's got away -- said his wife, sitting down on the divan. -- What a devil!
And Fedya, reaching a door along the corridor on which hung the sign 'Entry Categorically Forbidden', opened that door and went into the room.
The room which Fedya entered was narrow and long, its window curtained with newspaper. On the right-hand side of the room by the wall was a dirty, broken-down couch, and by the window a table made of planks placed at one end on a bedside table and at the other on the back of a chair. On the left-hand wall was a double shelf on which lay it was not clear what.
There was nothing else in the room, unless you count the man reclining on the couch, with a pale green face, dressed in a long and torn brown frock-coat and black nankeen trousers, from which there protruded freshly washed feet. The man was not asleep and he fixed his gaze intently on the intruder.
Fedya bowed, clicked his heels and, having pulled the butter out of his mouth, showed it to the reclining man.
-- One and a half -- said the host without changing his pose.
-- That's not very much -- said Fedya.
-- It's quite enough -- said the tenant of the room.
-- Well, all right -- said Fedya and, having removed the butter from his finger, placed it on the shelf.
-- You can come for the money tomorrow morning -- said the host.
-- What do you mean! -- exclaimed Fedya -- I need it right now. And anyway only one and a half roubles is . . .
-- Bugger off -- said the host drily and Fedya fled the room on tiptoe, closing the door carefully behind him.


(28) Anecdotes from the Life of Pushkin

1. Pushkin was a poet and was always writing something. Once Zhukovsky caught him at his writing and exclaimed loudly: -- You're not half a scribbler!
From then on Pushkin was very fond of Zhukovsky and started to call him simply Zhukov out of friendship.

2. As we know, Pushkin's beard never grew. Pushkin was very distressed about this and he always envied Zakharin in who, on the contrary, grew a perfectly respectable beard. 'His grows, but mine doesn't' -- Pushkin would often say, pointing at Zakharin with his fingernails. And every time he was right.

3. Once Petrushevsky broke his watch and sent for Pushkin. Pushkin arrived, had a look at Petrushevsky's watch and put it back on the chair. 'What do you say then, Pushkin old mate?' -- asked Petrushevsky. 'It's a stop-watch' -- said Pushkin.

4. When Pushkin broke his legs, he started to go about on wheels. His friends used to enjoy teasing Pushkin and grabbing him by his wheels. Pushkin took this very badly and wrote abusive verses about his friends. He called these verses 'erpigarms'.

5. The summer of 1829 Pushkin spent in the country. He used to get up early in the morning, drink a jug of fresh milk and run to the river to bathe. Having bathed in the river, Pushkin would lie down on the grass and sleep until dinner. After dinner Pushkin would sleep in a hammock. If he met any stinking peasants, Pushkin would nod at them and squeeze his nose with his fingers. And the stinking peasants would scratch their caps and say: 'It don't matter'.

6. Pushkin liked to throw stones. If he saw stones, then he would start throwing them. Sometimes he would fly into such a temper that he would stand there, red in the face, waving his arms and throwing stones. It really was rather awful!

7. Pushkin had four sons and they were all idiots. One of them couldn't even sit on his chair and kept falling off. Pushkin himself was not very good at sitting on his chair either, to speak of it. It used to be quite hilarious: they would be sitting at the table; at one end Pushkin would keep falling off his chair, and at the other end -- his son. One wouldn't know where to look.

(29) The Start of a Very Nice Summer's Day
A Symphony

No sooner had the cock crowed than Timofey jumped out of his window on to the roof and frightened everyone who was passing down the street at that time. Khariton the peasant stopped, picked up a stone and shied it at Timofey. Timofey disappeared somewhere. "What a dodger!" cried the human herd, and a certain Zubov took a run and rammed his head into a wall. "Oo-er!" exclaimed a peasant woman with a swollen cheek. But Komarov gave this woman a swift left-right and the woman ran off howling into a gateway. Fetelyushin walked past and laughed. Komarov went up to him and said: "As for you, you fat lump!" and struck Fetelyushin in the stomach. Fetelyushin supported himself against the wall and started to hiccup. Romashkin spat out of his window from above, trying to hit Fetelyushin. At this point, not far away, a big-nosed woman was beating her child with a trough. And a young, plump mother was rubbing her pretty little girl's face against a brick wall. A small dog, which had broken its thin leg, was sprawled on the pavement. A small boy was eating something revolting from a spittoon. There was a long queue for sugar at the grocery shop. Women were swearing loudly and shoving each other with their bags. Khariton the peasant, having just downed some methylated spirit, was standing in front of the women with his trousers undone and uttering bad language.
In this way a very nice summer's day started.

(30) Pakin and Rakukin

-- You, cut out that snottering! -- said Pakin to Rakukin.
Rakukin wrinkled up his nose and looked at Pakin with hostility.
-- What are you looking at? Seen enough yet? -- asked Pakin.
Rakukin chewed at his lips and, indignant in his revolving armchair, began looking the other way. Pakin drummed on his knee with his fingers and said:
-- What a fool! I'd like to take a good stick to his skull.
Rakukin stood up and started to walk out of the room, but Pakin quickly leapt up, caught up with Rakukin and said:
-- Wait a minute! Where d'ye think you're rushing off to? Better sit down, I've something to show you.
Rakukin stopped and looked distrustfully at Pakin.
-- What, don't you believe me? -- asked Pakin.
-- I believe you -- said Rakukin.
-- Well then, sit down here, in this armchair -- said Pakin.
And Rakukin sat down again in his revolving armchair.
-- So, then -- said Pakin -- what are you sitting in that chair for, like a fool?
Rakukin moved his legs about and began a rapid blinking of the eyes.
-- Don't blink -- said Pakin.
Rakukin stopped blinking and, adopting a hunched posture, drew his head in to his shoulders.
-- Sit straight -- said Pakin.
Rakukin, continuing to sit hunched up, stuck out his belly and extended his neck.
-- Ee -- said Pakin -- I couldn't half give you a smack in the kisser!
Rakukin hiccupped, puffed out his cheeks, and then carefully emitted the air through his nostrils.
-- Now, you, stop that snottering! -- said Pakin to Rakukin.
Rakukin extended his neck even more and again began an extremely rapid blinking of the eyes.
Pakin said:
-- If you, Rakukin, don't stop that blinking immediately, I'll give you a good boot in the chest.
Rakukin, so as not to blink, twisted his jaws, extended his neck still further, and threw his head back.
-- Uh, what an execrable sight you are -- said Pakin. -- A mug like a chicken's, a blue neck, simply revolting.
At that instant, Rakukin's head was lolling back further and further and, finally, all tension lost, it collapsed on to his back.
-- What the devil! -- exclaimed Pakin -- What sort of a conjuring trick is that supposed to be?
Looking at Rakukin from Pakin's position, it could quite easily be assumed that Rakukin was sitting there with no head at all. Rakukin's Adam's apple was sticking up in the air. Unwittingly one might well think that it was his nose.
-- Eh, Rakukin! -- said Pakin.
Rakukin was silent.
-- Rakukin! -- repeated Pakin.
Rakukin didn't reply and continued to sit motionless.
-- So -- said Pakin -- Rakukin's snuffed it.
Pakin crossed himself and left the room on tip-toe.
About fourteen minutes later a small soul climbed out of Rakukin's body and threw a malevolent look at the place where Pakin had just been sitting. But then the tall figure of the angel of death came out from behind the cupboard and, taking Rakukin's soul by the hand, led it away somewhere, straight through houses and walls. Rakukin's soul ran after the angel of death, constantly glancing malevolently back. But then the angel of death stepped up the pace and Rakukin's soul, leaping and stumbling, disappeared far away in the streets.
Last modification: 9/14/97 11:32AM