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The Secret City   By: (1884-1941)

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BY HUGH WALPOLE

STUDIES IN PLACE THE SECRET CITY THE DARK FOREST THE GOLDEN SCARECROW THE WOODEN HORSE MARADICK AT FORTY THE GODS AND MR. PERRIN

TWO PROLOGUES THE PRELUDE TO ADVENTURE FORTITUDE

THE RISING CITY 1. THE DUCHESS OF WREXE 2. THE GREEN MIRROR

THE SECRET CITY

A NOVEL IN THREE PARTS

BY

HUGH WALPOLE

AUTHOR OF "FORTITUDE," "THE DARK FOREST," "THE DUCHESS OF WREXE," ETC.

NEW YORK GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY

COPYRIGHT, 1919 BY GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

TO

MAJOR JAMES ANNAND (15TH BATTALION 48TH HIGHLANDERS, C.E.F.)

IN RETURN FOR THE GIFT OF HIS FRIENDSHIP

In the eastern quarter dawn breaks, the stars flicker pale. The morning cock at Ju nan mounts the wall and crows. The songs are over, the clock run down, but still the feast is set. The Moon grows dim and the stars are few; morning has come to the world. At a thousand gates and ten thousand doors the fish shaped keys turn; Round the Palace and up by the Castle, the crows and magpies are flying.

Cock Crow Song . Anon. (1st Century B.C.).

CONTENTS

PART I Vera And Nina

PART II Lawrence

PART III Markovitch And Semyonov

PART I

VERA AND NINA

THE SECRET CITY

VERA AND NINA

I

There are certain things that I feel, as I look through this bundle of manuscript, that I must say. The first is that of course no writer ever has fulfilled his intention and no writer ever will; secondly, that there was, when I began, another intention than that of dealing with my subject adequately, namely that of keeping myself outside the whole of it; I was to be, in the most abstract and immaterial sense of the word, a voice, and that simply because this business of seeing Russian psychology through English eyes has no excuse except that it is English. That is its only interest, its only atmosphere, its only motive, and if you are going to tell me that any aspect of Russia psychological, mystical, practical, or commercial seen through an English medium is either Russia as she really is or Russia as Russians see her, I say to you, without hesitation, that you don't know of what you are talking.

Of Russia and the Russians I know nothing, but of the effect upon myself and my ideas of life that Russia and the Russians have made during these last three years I know something. You are perfectly free to say that neither myself nor my ideas of life are of the slightest importance to any one. To that I would say that any one's ideas about life are of importance and that any one's ideas about Russian life are of interest... and beyond that, I have simply been compelled to write. I have not been able to help myself, and all the faults and any virtues in this story come from that. The facts are true, the inferences absolutely my own, so that you may reject them at any moment and substitute others. It is true that I have known Vera Michailovna, Nina, Alexei Petrovitch, Henry, Jerry, and the rest some of them intimately and many of the conversations here recorded I have myself heard. Nevertheless the inferences are my own, and I think there is no Russian who, were he to read this book, would not say that those inferences were wrong. In an earlier record, to which this is in some ways a sequel,[1] my inferences were, almost without exception, wrong, and there is no Russian alive for whom this book can have any kind of value except as a happy example of the mistakes that the Englishman can make about the Russian.

But it is over those very mistakes that the two souls, Russian and English, so different, so similar, so friendly, so hostile, may meet.... And in any case the thing has been too strong for me. I have no other defence. For one's interest in life is stronger, God knows how much stronger, than one's discretion, and one's love of life than one's wisdom, and one's curiosity in life than one's ability to record it... Continue reading book >>




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