Saturday, 16 March 2019

D-r Tchékhov, Detektiv . . . the Problems of Englishing a Completist. Too anorakish?

It is well-known that, like Kipling, Tchékhov prided himself on his hyperdetailed understanding of the habits, customs and manners of the toilers from his own great sprawling multicultural empire. 
Filth! The place was one mass of it. Filth underfoot – filth on the walls, the rafters and the beams – filth floating on the hot, heavy pestiferous air.                                    (‘Zola,Tchékhov thought, ‘would revel in a minute description of this reeking den.’)                                    Anton placed his enamel tray on the workbench.   Old Vańuška cleared a space by removing an ancient fowling-piece, and a peculiarly shaped stump which Anton knew to be a leg-guard used by the cannoneers.  (When two shaft-horses drew a field-gun, one horse was ridden by a postilion who would have this clumsy-looking, very comical piece of wood fixed to his right leg.)
By comparison with a later text (see below), the Englishing of this modest display of military intelligence did not fox my father when first confronted with the ‘Chekhov manuscript’, labelled The Fatal Debut (understood to be a provisional title) in Anton’s own hand on the wax paper wrapper containing the putative Chekhov novel, bartered in 1946 by a prisoner of the Nürnberg Trials for ‘. . . half a carton of Chesterfields, two tins of cocoa and one can of condensed milk . . .’ (My father was an interpreter with SHAEF at the trials when he became acquainted with the possessor of the ms, General Vadim Ignatyvich Kulikov, who, following demands from the Soviets for his repatriation, was returned to Russia where after a show trial in Moscow he was executed for treason.)


Trainspotting credentials.


My father complained that Chekhov’s completism became more pronounced as the novel (he retitled the ms D-r Tchékhov, Detektiv: A Textbook Case) progressed towards its denouement and the measure of the challenges he faced may be grasped from his tackling of a particularly anorakish Chekhovian line, which warrants, I think, a more protracted textual exegesis . . .


From D-r Tchékhov, Detektiv: A Textbook Case, conclusion of Part 1, The Unvarnished Truth . . .  
Soon, the double yolk of a yellow approach-signal shimmered in a glair of mist.
I do believe my father’s erudite translation has the distinction of conveying Chekhov’s meaning with the very lightest touch. The preceding sentence, sets the scene . . .
In the far distance, a railway engine laboured on a curve, and then the railway lights came into view over the brow of a hill, and a high column of grey smoke and sparks shifted fretfully hither and thither, trapped in the cutting between the forest trees.
The elegance of the ‘double yoke’ is matched, in this case, by D-r Tchékhov’s apposite usage of a practically untranslatable Cheremissian word for a particularly serpentine river mist, which is also a homograph for ‘egg white’. (My learned father wittily employs the Scottish Gaelic word, glair, which has a very similar double meaning.)

The Soviet Railroad Signals Manual (see diagram) certainly confirms D-r Tchékhov’s trainspotting credentials and, indeed, does not contradict his observations of a ‘ramassage train’ for the fortress general’s remounts approaching signals set for their diversion to the marshalling yard. (Diagram: Switchgear for points, inwards, with a graduated outward crossover plate to the running line.

For the opinion of a Marxist footplatemen on the aridity of matters literary, see :
https://catherineeisnerfrance.blogspot.com/2011/10/solitary-truck-euphonious-assonance.html


A number of extracts from the as-yet-unpublished crime novel, D-r Tchékhov, Detektiv, have been posted here over recent years :

The transcription and restoration of a long lost crime novel by Chekhov (he, himself, referred to such a work in progress in 1888) has been a task requiring considerable cerebral vigour, which I confess demands a savviness I can no longer own.

The novel relates the misadventures of the morphine-dependent D-r Anton Tchékhov, aged 28 years, when investigating the mysterious duelling death of an aristocratic cadet in a remote snowbound northern garrison. 

Saturday, 2 March 2019

From unpublished notebooks of L v. K


In a deserted room


the mirror shows 

a hyacinth

above

the fireplace


hyacinth

fireplace


a circumstantial affinity

the glass

does not

deny


L v. K  (Paris 1937)                                            


In a previous post . . . 
http://catherineeisnerfrance.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/dotty-premature-embalmment-of-anti-art.html
. . .  is found mentioned a particularly recherché (even prophetic) example of la poésie concrète from The Eleven Surviving Works of L v. K.  It prompted me to add a further example of L v. K’s ‘deep continent’ brand of polymathy, see . . . 
https://catherineeisnerfrance.blogspot.com/2016/04/circo-perfuso-fato-sanguinis.html
The eleven works are exhibited at the Arts Council Poetry Collection website administered by the Poetry Library at Royal Festival Hall in London’s Southbank Centre:



The Eleven Surviving Works of L v. K 
(1902-1939)

A Memoir of a Numeromaniacal Futurist



Friday, 25 January 2019

Lower than dirt

Once I lived lower than dirt; below,
in the basement area,
under the steps to my master’s front door.


I would dread his return
from the brickyards where
of those mute slaves 
there was not one who did not fear
their hellbent master
and quake at his tread.

Many times, on his approach, 
the brute would bawl my name;
stamp a tantrum at his door
to bid his craven drudge:
‘Take off my boots!’

And there, on that door step,
so near above my head,
there at that boot scraper,
under his tyrant heel
he stamps out the dirt
while I, his bootblack,  
suffer his taunts to bear 
all the cold earth

all the cold earth
he rains down
 to mire my hair.

Ranting.
Ever stomping
to mire my hair.

Until the day I fled away
and seven years passed before
the Time of Rain and Retribution brought
a brown mudslide to bury 
all the master’s works:

the city 

the brickyard

his house

he had built to
last a thousand years.

Misfortune seldom comes alone to a house.

                                             Catherine Eisner             
                                    25.01.2019             
   
For the photograph of the 19th Century boot scraper that lends substance to this text we are indebted to the documentarian, Areta, and her fascinating explorations of the former Austrian empire in her scholarly website:

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Priapus and a Dessication of Oxford Dons: Blake, Blunt and Hockney Eviscerated in the Master’s Lodge.

Four months after les événements in Paris, when attending a marketing meeting for the Autumn List of a venerable publishing house, I was witness to a curious donnish hauteur and disdain when the names of William Blake, Anthony Blunt and David Hockney surfaced. It was an education – of sorts – that was to prepare me for my meeting the following week with Sir Anthony at the Courtauld Institute in Portman Square. 
My boss, the directress of publicity, had simply thrust into my hands a proof copy of 
Sir Anthony Blunt’s Guernica fresh off the press. 
Tony marked the item last night,’ Barbara instructed me distractedly, ‘but somehow I’ve lost the page. Simply ask him to confirm again the plate he wants for the publicity fliers.’    
I observed Sir Anthony surreptitiously beneath lowered
lashes while I pretended to examine a small maquette
on his desk, an ill-carved figure he evidently used as a 
paperweight among his card index boxes.
   ‘One can see with half an eye it’s a fake,’ were Blunt’s
first words. In his own eyes, I thought, there is nothing
written he allows you to read.
   ‘Truth be told I no longer remember,’ Blunt countered
wearily, as though the phrase was well-honed, when I 
asked him to identify the Picasso plate for his book’s 
publicity flyer. He denied any knowledge of his earlier
choice and chose a different page . . . a preparatory 
drawing for Guernica, a curious winged creature that, 
as Blunt states in his monograph, flies out of a wound in 
the flank of a tormented horse, and ‘symbolises the soul 
of the horse, which leaves it at the moment of death.’ 

On the previous Monday we’d taken the packed rush-hour Varsity Pullman from Paddington to the press at Oxford. Barbara and I had dined elbow-to-elbow with week-ending dons from the metropolis in a vintage breakfast-buffet car. 
A querulous don had stabbed his Times crossword with his fish-knife and quavered, ‘Male newlyweds are separated in Scottish islands, eight letters?’
‘He-brides,’ my sophisticated companion replied instantly and I thought then that I’d never measure up to the adaptive wit of Barbara. (I learned, years later, that her own marital status was something of a ‘lavender marriage’.)
The dining car had a special brown and cream livery of faded elegance, I remember, with furnishings the colour of Oxford marmalade. Our hair when we arrived had smelled of roasted coffee, burnt toast and smoked kippers.
A desiccation of fusty-dusty dons! 
For, when later that same morning we attended a marketing meeting convened by our own editorial board of dons in their Master’s Lodge, we’d found ourselves again seated among a dozen ill-assorted ancient chairs similarly crammed into a book-strewn brown study. 
The subfusc milieu of the Courtauld Institute I feared would be no different. The driest wits seem to sit at High Table or inhabit Senior Common Rooms.
In short, the most remarkable thing about Oxford dons I’d discovered at that time was, alike, they all struck me as quite studiously unremarkable. 
Theirs was the slow, measured speech of the hind-sighted.
Each seemed to compete to be an Everyman, taking pride in speech of studied simplicity, the raw stuff of common idiom from which they’d refine their epigrammatic sallies.
‘They do say you go into hospital with one thing and come out with another,’ mused a wizened don, idly flipping the pages of a new Vade-Mecum of Treatments for Pathological Conditions.
‘Duck shove it,’ said another brusquely, consigning an unpublished manuscript to obscurity.
The meeting concluded with a discussion to decide the merits of a learned treatise on ceremonial banqueting in the Quattrocento.
‘Is it illustrated?’ a don asked, examining the prospectus through half-moon bi-focals.
‘Regrettably, not,’ Barbara answered.
‘Dear me,’ the don observed peevishly, ‘then how are we to serve a good dinner without any plates?’
And then – at that precise moment – Anthony Blunt’s incisive new study of Picasso’s Guernica surfaced in error to the top of the stack.
‘Mmm. Alas, poor Tony,’ the elder of the discussants murmured with a strange little moue of discontent. 
Sage heads nodded. And there was a knowingness in the general mutterings of reproach when the senior don added: 
‘He makes new friends as readily as he abandons old ones.’
So I fully expected my imminent encounter with Sir Anthony Blunt* – a former Cambridge don, after all – to be likewise as dry and donnishly waggish.
As I remember it, the meeting dispersed as was customary into smaller clusters of dons – within reach of the Master’s table stacked with the latest proof copies – to continue their refined skirmishing, with scarcely sheathed claws now clasping glasses of dry sherry.
Two of the discussants, I noticed, were idly examining Volume Two of The Oxford Illustrated Old Testament**, and they had paused at the Book of Nehemiah in whose ink-fresh pages a number of mischievously phallic towers reared skywards in David Hockney’s faux naïf rebuilding of Jerusalem. 
Somewhat priapic and prochronistic, wouldn’t you say?’ The professor of the Quattrocento pursed his lips (an unconscious medievalism that belied his urbanity).
‘Jejunity and iconoclasm of the feebler sort, I agree,’ his companion conceded with a 
yawn, pointing to the protrusive membrum seminale they evidently perceived on the 
offending page. ‘Mind you, Blake, I believe, was not averse to . . .’
‘. . . Smuggling priapic classicism into his works? Blake’s Four Zoas Series, you mean?  
Yes. I suppose, put like that, young Hockney’s in good company when regarding phalli as
compositional elements worthy of a callow jeu d’esprit. But the Old Testament? Is it
entirely proper under the imprimatur of a University Press? Unseemly? I wonder.’

William Blake’s personal iconography of the phallus: 
sketch by Blake from his Vala manuscript for
the Four Zoas Series, one of the uncompleted
prophetic books he began in 1797. 

  The professor of the Quattrocento paused for his sherry to further reflect. Then he brightened and continued:
Well, maybe Hockney’s not so wide of the mark, after all. I know of at least one King of Judah whose wife worshipped at the shrine of Priapus. Although, according to Hockney, Nehemiah must have had second sight, because that particular Jerusalemite king ruled four hundred years later and – even that being so – the dome is more than a trifle . . . er . . .’
‘. . . Coptic?’
At which point in this rivalrous Oxford brains trust, I was rescued from more bafflement as I’d spotted Barbara slyly pointing to her dinky ritzy wrist watch, and we dashed for our London train.
Edited extracts from 
In Search of the Fourth Man, an Enquiry into Betrayal,
Part III, Catherine Eisner’s A Bad Case (Published by Salt, 2015)



* For more insights concerning Anthony Blunt, see Slaves to Seconal: Droguée Antonia/Anthony and the Fourth Man
http://catherineeisnerfrance.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/slaves-to-seconal-droguee.html

** The multi-volume edition of The Oxford Illustrated Old Testament was published by Oxford University Press in 1968 and contained David Hockney’s illustrations for the Book of Nehemiah.

Drawing by David Hockney for
the Book of Nehemiah (page 483)
The Oxford Illustrated Old Testament
(OUP 1968)



Catherine Eisner believes passionately in plot-driven suspense fiction, a devotion to literary craft that draws on studies in psychoanalytical criminology and psychoactive pharmacology to explore the dark side of motivation, and ignite plot twists with unexpected outcomes. Within these disciplines Eisner’s fictions seek to explore variant literary forms derived from psychotherapy and criminology to trace the traumas of characters in extremis. Compulsive recurring sub-themes in her narratives examine sibling rivalry, rivalrous cousinhood, pathological imposture, financial chicanery, and the effects of non-familial male pheromones on pubescence, 
and Listen Close to Me (2011)

Friday, 14 December 2018

OFFICIAL : Worse than Savages . . . Speaker Hoarse in Calling to Order . . . Impatient Loquacity . . . Brexit . . .


To interrupt another, even in common Conversation, is reckon’d highly indecent [of the North American Savages]. How different this is from the Conduct of a polite British House of Commons where scarce every person without some confusion, that makes the Speaker hoarse in calling to Order and how different from the Mode of Conversation in many polite Companies of Europe, where if you do not deliver your Sentence with great Rapidity you are cut off in the middle of it by the Impatient Loquacity of those you converse with, and never suffer’d to finish it . . .’

[Satirical Tract by Benjamin Franklin, 1784: Remarks concerning the Savages of North America]


[James Gillray’s satirical print, 1801, marking the long-awaited implementation of the Acts of Union bringing England and Ireland together as the United Kingdom. Note the emblemata above the Speaker’s Chair.]

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Ur-Gumshoe? D-r Tchékhov, Detektiv. The Unvarnished Truth.

 Tchékhov dreamt he was a thief of the back streets who collects coins and collar studs from the pavement with tarred shoe-soles to evade detection.

D-r Tchékhov mounted on Old Roarer (1888).
‘Her breath had frozen on leaving her nostrils so that there was
a horn of ice a foot long projecting through the steam, and
lumps of the hardest ice – of unequal sizes – had
become attached to her hoofs.’ 

A number of extracts from the as-yet-unpublished crime novel, D-r Tchékhov, Detektiv, have been posted here over recent years :
A Skirmish with Wolves

The transcription and restoration of a long lost crime novel by Chekhov (he, himself, referred to such a work in progress in 1888) has been a task requiring considerable cerebral vigour, which I confess demands a savviness I can no longer own.

The novel relates the misadventures of the morphine-dependent D-r Anton Tchékhov, aged 28 years, when investigating the mysterious duelling death of an aristocratic cadet in a remote snowbound northern garrison. 

So for Tchékhov’s perorated musings that colour the penultimate chapter, Pursued by Wolvesretailing this baffling affair, click on the first link above . . . or . . . continue here to read onwards to the conclusion of Part One, A Textbook Case . . 



In three days, life in the garrison had robbed him of all self respect, and brought him to the utter degradation of institutional mindlessness, consumed, like the common soldiers, by a crude and bitter resentment.
  Around him he saw only darkness, barbarity, monotony and the dumb, brutish indifference of callous men stripped of all humanity.
  A melancholy whistle sounded like a chamade of defeat.
  In the far distance, a railway engine laboured on a curve, and then the railway lights came into view over the brow of a hill, and a high column of grey smoke and sparks shifted fretfully hither and thither, trapped in the cutting between the forest trees.
  As though at a familiar signal, the mare whickered and broke into a risyu — a military trot at a brisk, even pace towards the flaring funnel. 
  Below them, a long goods train passed, pulled by two panting engines that belched shafts of crimson flame from their funnels, respiring like the high blowers who filled the rear ranks for draught service alongside Old Roarer.
  Soon, the double yolk of a yellow approach-signal shimmered in a glair of mist.
  In another moment Anton had reached the track and crossed the line to enter the station yard.
  He patted the mare’s neck, smoothing a mane caparisoned by snow and, in places, standing in frozen quiffs.  Her flanks were streaked with frozen sweat.
  “She’s a regular sweetlin’,” he said to the waiting groom.
  He swung out his leg and dismounted smoothly, like a well-turned period.


The Unvarnished Truth


The ramassage train was a mixed goods wagons and passenger service with a vagon-restoran. On the platform, soldiers were rapidly unloading two box-cars of fresh horses under penalty of demurrage.  
  The remounts’ eyes were bright and their coats gleamed.
  “More unsuspecting candidates, like the conscripts, for the dread potions of that infernal médicin empirique,” Anton murmured sourly, and stroked their groomed flanks.
  He paused to watch a little bye-play between a thickset, compact chestnut gelding, with a broad breast, and a sturdy carabagh cob.
  “They say : ‘In the long run truth will triumph’, but it’s untrue,he confided softly, fondling a velvet ear.
  At the rear of the train, he observed, was a railway car disguised to look like a mail-van, with opaque glass windows and four-plank cells to transport exiled political prisoners.
  He entered his own compartment, threw himself on the seat, and took up his private journal.
  He felt all of Russia was on the line harnessed to the lokomotiv and waiting for a signal whose annunciation they would never hear.
  “My visit has been a footling business, he wrote, “the situation is hopeless, and it is impossible to change the course of things.”
  He gazed blankly out of the window, blinking his heavily lashed lids.
  “I have dissected with an ice-pick a frozen monument to romanticism, explored the aphotic regions of the General’s castelry, lingered in the haunts of pleasure, and buried a ghost.”
  Soon, he knew, all traces of the episode would be erased. 
  With much the same intention as Old Vańuška — when attempting the drive of deer to cover his tracks and overwrite, in the snow, the record of his misdeeds — so the Princess would sprinkle holy water on the scandal.                                 
      Yet the bowdlerized version of the events was written in the official record, for had not he, Tchékhov, so written it? [“No more equivocal or casuistical a letter have I ever written.”]
  The Princess emerged from the station-master’s room and boarded the train.
      He compared once more her delicate weak-looking neck and cernuous head with his own bowed shoulders.
      He was aware the shuba he was wearing — as long as a dressing-gown — was not comme il faut, and he was conscious that his raffish bowtie was not the correct thing, yet in these small matters, as in the greater ones, he vowed to resist his own embourgeoisement. 
     “My motto : ‘I don’t want anything.’ ”
  He had probed beneath the surface sheen, and under the varnish he had found nests of corruption and subterfuge which not even the magic of the old Tcheremis mediciner could conceal.
  At the front of the train, a door was flung open, and youthful male voices, resonant and assured, cried out : “Mariya! Mariushka! Manyusya! Mashenka!”

  The whistle sounded. 

  Anton was just in time to see Mariya following her hat-box as she was handed into the compartment of the four bad captains.
  The train steamed out.
  Tchékhov glanced at his watch.  When Anton was sick as a child, or profoundly unhappy, he had played with a small oblong fragment of mirror to dart “sun hares” across the ceiling and on the faded paper of the wall.
  In the bright rays of the gaslamp the glass watch-lens sent out spinning discs of light on the carriage ceiling.
  He repeated under his breath his childhood’s secret chant : “The hare dances at night to seduce the moon.”  He had believed then that a selenogamous marriage was the fate of a poet, and his destiny was to be a flamen devoted to his muse.
  He sighed, and wrote : “It usually takes as much time to feel happy as to wind up one’s watch.” 
  He wound up his watch. 
  In those pages of his journal where he entered his imprest accounts, D-r Tchékhov drew a new line, and itemised his latest expenses – viz the handout to a battalion commander besieged by creditors.
  “In Act I, he wrote, “a respectable man, ‘X’, borrows a hundred roubles from ‘A’, and in the course of all four acts he does not pay it back.” 
  He smiled, and added : “To make an enemy is to lend a man money, and ask it of him again.”
  To be spared the out-go, the yawning byurokrat then crossed out “expenses, sundry” and wrote “expenses, general”.
  The landscape flowing by looked inane.
  When he thought of the General’s penury Anton reckoned he had gone some way to make up the ullage.
  The General had played him for a fool. 
  The dark bulk of the General’s lofty quadrilateral fort disappeared below the treeline.  
  On balance, Anton felt sorry for the General whose domain had shrunk to a second-rate boarding school and four mountain batteries quartered in a snowbound cantonment patrolling a forgotten frontier.
  Anton gazed at the way the land tumbled, and saw the trees were planted anyhow, stupidly ; a land where prospered only zastoi — stagnation, stupidity and mediocrity.
  “The story I have begun,” he scribbled in a draft letter to Nicholai, “is a work de longue haleine — as complicated as it is deeply tedious.”   
  He sighed. “At this moment I see no good reason to live,he confided to his brother, “but then I remembered an editor had commissioned a magazine article on the poor schools and I recognised that I could not die issueless.”
  The carriage lamp burned as fitfully as his own restlessness.
  His hæmmorhoids were afire with a formicary itching which circled his arse like a ring-burner. 
  He had added to his knowledge of enemata by experimenting with variants of Ivanishche’s instillation of opium and myrrh tinctures which had succeeded only in acting upon his guts like evacuants ; purgations each more dreadful than the last.
  To his remaining ampoule he sought relief ; and within the space of a few moments the allumé eyes of the unrepentant meconophagist had undergone their customary pupillary changes.
  At a level-crossing a team of oxen hauling coal slackened their pace.
  His stomach warmed and the abdominal spasms ceased.
  There remained a sickly, sticky sensation in his gullet, however, which was clearly the consequence of too much smoking so he swallowed a linctus of barbitonum – a hypnotic drug – he had mixed with drops of antitussive opianine. 
  He gazed from the window and scanned the horizon through a pair of opera glasses.
  The landscape flowing by looked phantasmagorical.
  A fantaziya.
  (He wrote,“And I dreamt that, as it were, I considered reality was a dream, and the dream was a reality.”)
  In many respects, he considered, the fact that the symptoms of a sufferer from tuberculosis are similar to the signs of morphinism should be regarded by fellow addicts as fortunate indeed.
  The similarities — the brittle nails, the axillary sweating, the dry heat in other regions, the weight loss, his fluctuating temperature night and day — had conveniently veiled his drug dependency from the prying intrusions of overofficious busybodies at the medical faculty in the past.
  “I am a superfluous man ; only the healthy and strong will remain,he wrote. “Nature is straining to rid herself of debilitated organisms and those she doesn’t need . . . famines, typhus, diphtheria — kholera, tuberkulez, skarlatina — an epidemic whose only cure is a course of the natural sciences. But Death defies the doctor. For how can a doctor prevail over disease when his own brother is reluctant to change is underpants.”
  Since his sojourn in the fort his fæces had turned black, a sign which indicated, he believed, not only the presence of stomach blood as “coffee-grounds” in his stools but melæna wrought by an overdose of bismuth.
  He examined the granulating abscess on his lower left femur and removed an incrustation. To his surprise when he looked for the formerly sloughy floor he saw the lesion had healed to a healthy new pink carapace.
  Cicatrix manet. Spasi'bo za poda'rok, Vańuška!” He laughed. “Thanks for the timely gift of spurious health, old man.” 
  Only one thought reconciled Tchékhov to the old feldsher : just as the Prince had suffered from the rascal’s ignorance, so perhaps Anton was benefiting from one of his mistakes.
  “The hour is late afternoon and dark,he wrote. “Only the evening will show what day it has been.”
  He turned the page, and resumed writing.
  “I think more and more of death. I dreamt that Court kammerjunkers were  present at the opening of my grave, and I was preserved like a saint, the skin uncrackt, the odour sweet. Death is terrible, but still more terrible is the thought that you might live forever and never die. To live one must have something to hang on to. In this country only the body works, not the spirit.”
  Above the rattle of the wheels, at the head of the train, he heard the melodiya of Mariya singing. 
  The ballada told of dukes and counts, like those in novels, not ordinary people. The song was not sensual but yearning ; a romanticheskoye yearning to rhyme Ideal and Love with Repentance and purest Sacrifice.
  Mariya sang with a pathos to capture men’s souls, and on his lips he tasted  the sacrament of that first warm kiss which had melted his heart.
  Ahead of him, her singing faded. 
  He wanted to race and overtake her, and it seemed to him as if it were life itself he wanted to overtake, that life which one cannot bring back or overtake or catch, just as one cannot overtake one’s own shadow.
  “To die innominate, unperpetuated — as the Great Anon — should be our early resolve,he continued. 
  When he thought of his death he would recall the words of Cato ; for he would rather people should enquire why he had not a tablet erected to his memory, than why he had. 
  He unfolded his travelling rug, bunched his coat into a pillow, and laid his head in readiness for rest.
  “Nevertheless, the power and salvation of a people lie in its intelligentsyia, in the intellectuals who think honestly, feel, and can work.”
  A laconic smile lurked under his beard.
  “At my death destroy these notebook writings as the demented ramblings of a drivelling scribbler, one of the cackling literati.” 
  There was no doubt but that he meant it.
  “In truth, it seems to me that we uncultured, worn-out, money-grubbing people, banal in speech, stereotyped in intentions, have grown quite mouldy, and while we intellectuals are rummaging among old rags and, according to the old Russian custom, biting one another, there is boiling up around us a life we neither know nor notice. The dawn of a new life is breaking. Great events will take us unawares, and we shall turn into sinister old men and women ; and we shall be the first who, in that hatred of that new dawn, will calumniate it.”   
  He closed his eyes.
  He could not forget the Prince monumentalised in the snow.
  He could not forget Mariya imperatrix.  
  Her vivacious amoral'nyi smile. 
  He thought of her complex gamey odour of hairwash and perfumery. 
  “Essentially this chronicle of woe is crude and meaningless. Romantic love, like Mariya’s song appears as meaningless as an avalanche which involuntarily rolls down a mountain and overwhelms people.” 
  He opened his eyes and reread the scrap of paper on which he had copied the Prince’s love letter.
  He shook his head in wonderment.
  That the Prince had truly loved Mariya there could be no doubt. For Anton had preserved the scrap like holy writ.
  No love letter should be read au pied de la lettre.
  Just as D-r Tchékhov had struggled to find a way to conclude his Report to the General ; so the Prince had striven in the composition of his duplicitous last words.
  As regards the psychogenesis of the Prince’s neuroses, the psycho-analytical school would continue to proffer the glib formula, “morbid anxiety and depressiya mean unsatisfied love.” 
  But was this diagnosis wholly true when Anton applied it to himself?
  When depersonalisation was manifest, as was the case of the Prince, sometimes, the subjects of these inner stresses or mental conflicts, instead of feeling that they themselves are changed, discover their outer world appears different.
  But surely derealisation was the very condition which sustained the writer’s inner life — was its essence?
  There was no denying that the opium-eating scribbler shared many of the textbook symptoms — and perceptions. 
  “Subjects of depersonalisation appear different from what they used to be ; strange, lifeless, detached, automatic.  In derealisation, the outer world looks dead or macabre.  Such subjects exhibiting manic-depressive psychoses (melankholiya) must be regarded as suicide risks.”
  Definitely spot on!  Korsakov knew his stuff all right!
  The ends of each pencil (there were five) he had found in the Prince’s study were, like the cadet’s finger nails, chewed to the quick. 
  The hands were crossed when Anton had last seen them.
  For repose in his coffin, the bodkin-women had removed the Prince’s gloves.
  Anton dwelt on the darker purposes of such women, prodding and dosing young wronged girls with filthy homegrown deobstruents. 
  He prayed Mariya had remained faithful to her promise.
  At last, he sank into a deep opiated sleep and dreamt of Goshen — a great shining celestial city — velikii gorod — and dreamt he was a thief of the back streets who collects coins and collar studs from the pavement with tarred shoe-soles to evade detection.
  He could not wait to be enclosed once more within the white heart of Moscow.



Catherine Eisner believes passionately in plot-driven suspense fiction, a devotion to literary craft that draws on studies in psychoanalytical criminology and psychoactive pharmacology to explore the dark side of motivation, and ignite plot twists with unexpected outcomes. Within these disciplines Eisner’s fictions seek to explore variant literary forms derived from psychotherapy and criminology to trace the traumas of characters in extremis. Compulsive recurring sub-themes in her narratives examine sibling rivalry, rivalrous cousinhood, pathological imposture, financial chicanery, and the effects of non-familial male pheromones on pubescence, 
and Listen Close to Me (2011)