A very important meeting is being planned in Petrograd: an assembly of representatives from all the cultural-educational societies, clubs and people’s theatres… Now, during this time of revolution, we need more than ever proper emotional instruction - a school of the passions worthy of the times. See more
They will come to understand not only Gorky and Tolstoy, but also the comedies of Moliere, the “Sturm und drang” of the young Schiller, and Shakespeare, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Romeo and Juliet”.
Will this letter get to you, my Hafiz? I hope not: a warm wind is blowing up the Neva from the sea, which means the year is drawing to an end (I always count years from winter to winter) – the first year of my life which bore no resemblance to those previous: grand, silly, long; somehow too eventful and serious. I can even see it in the mass of freckles on my nose and the way my arms have grown inconceivably long.
My deer Hafiz, how sweet it is to live! That, really, was all I wanted to say to you.
Skis. The ones you want aren’t available anywhere. You could probably order them from Finland, and they’d arrive in two weeks or so. But I don't know whether you’d be happy with that?
Do you remember us discussing the fact that a Renaissance is due to begin in Russia? I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about the strange people who, after the refined, transparent, wise quattrocento, became the progenitors of an entirely new century. Just like that – in one fell swoop. Just think, Michelangelo came after Leonardo, after women incapable of even holding up a Swan. And suddenly, all those bodies, all that ponderousness, all those visions.
I’m very much looking forward to your play. Its form will doubtless be wonderful, as you well know yourself. But remember, my dear Hafiz, the Sistine Chapel hasn’t yet been completed – it’s still missing its God, its prophets, its Sybils, its Adam and its Eve. And, most importantly, there’s no sleep there, and no waking; there are no heroes either, no singular gesture of victory, and no singular perfect beauty – the cold, stone, abstract beauty unfeared by that century’s denizens, and which they dared to honour as equal. Well, goodbye. Write your drama and come back, for God's sake.
My dear Lerichka, you’ll be scolding me, of course: I’m writing you for the first time since my departure, yet I’ve already received two enchanting letters from you. But, on the very day of my arrival, I found myself in the trenches, shooting at Germans out of a machine gun and being shot at by them; and two weeks have passed in the same fashion. Only a graphomaniac can write from the trenches, so little reminiscent of trenches as they are : there aren’t any chairs, the ceiling is leaking, and several huge rats perched on the table grumble angrily if you approach them. And I’ve spent whole days lolling in the snow and gazing at the stars; mentally drawing a line between us, I pictured your face looking down at me from the heavens. It’s a delightful pastime – you should give it a go at some point.