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Knock, Knock, Knock and Other Stories   By: (1818-1883)

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The Novels Of Ivan Turgenev

KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK And Other Stories

Translated From The Russian By Constance Garnett










We all settled down in a circle and our good friend Alexandr Vassilyevitch Ridel (his surname was German but he was Russian to the marrow of his bones) began as follows:

I am going to tell you a story, friends, of something that happened to me in the 'thirties ... forty years ago as you see. I will be brief and don't you interrupt me.

I was living at the time in Petersburg and had only just left the University. My brother was a lieutenant in the horse guard artillery. His battery was stationed at Krasnoe Selo it was summer time. My brother lodged not at Krasnoe Selo itself but in one of the neighbouring villages; I stayed with him more than once and made the acquaintance of all his comrades. He was living in a fairly decent cottage, together with another officer of his battery, whose name was Ilya Stepanitch Tyeglev. I became particularly friendly with him.

Marlinsky is out of date now no one reads him and even his name is jeered at; but in the 'thirties his fame was above everyone's and in the opinion of the young people of the day Pushkin could not hold candle to him. He not only enjoyed the reputation of being the foremost Russian writer; but something much more difficult and more rarely met with he did to some extent leave his mark on his generation. One came across heroes à la Marlinsky everywhere, especially in the provinces and especially among infantry and artillery men; they talked and corresponded in his language; behaved with gloomy reserve in society "with tempest in the soul and flame in the blood" like Lieutenant Byelosov in the " Frigate Hope ." Women's hearts were "devoured" by them. The adjective applied to them in those days was "fatal." The type, as we all know, survived for many years, to the days of Petchorin. [Footnote: The leading character in Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time . Translator's Note .] All sorts of elements were mingled in that type. Byronism, romanticism, reminiscences of the French Revolution, of the Dekabrists and the worship of Napoleon; faith in destiny, in one's star, in strength of will; pose and fine phrases and a miserable sense of the emptiness of life; uneasy pangs of petty vanity and genuine strength and daring; generous impulses and defective education, ignorance; aristocratic airs and delight in trivial foppery.... But enough of these general reflections. I promised to tell you the story.


Lieutenant Tyeglev belonged precisely to the class of those "fatal" individuals, though he did not possess the exterior commonly associated with them; he was not, for instance, in the least like Lermontov's "fatalist." He was a man of medium height, fairly solid and round shouldered, with fair, almost white eyebrows and eyelashes; he had a round, fresh, rosy cheeked face, a turn up nose, a low forehead with the hair growing thick over the temples, and full, well shaped, always immobile lips: he never laughed, never even smiled. Only when he was tired and out of heart he showed his square teeth, white as sugar. The same artificial immobility was imprinted on all his features: had it not been for that, they would have had a good natured expression. His small green eyes with yellow lashes were the only thing not quite ordinary in his face: his right eye was very slightly higher than his left and the left eyelid drooped a little, which made his eyes look different, strange and drowsy. Tyeglev's countenance, which was not, however, without a certain attractiveness, almost always wore an expression of discontent mingled with perplexity, as though he were chasing within himself a gloomy thought which he was never able to catch. At the same time he did not give one the impression of being stuck up: he might rather have been taken for an aggrieved than a haughty man... Continue reading book >>

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