Three Tales

Three Tales

Three Tales

Three Tales

Synopsis

During his lifetime Aleksey Apukhtin (1840-93) was considered a foremost Russian poet and prominent figure in St. Petersburg society of the time. He was a lifelong friend of Tchaikovsky (they were both educated at the School of Jurisprudence in St. Petersburg). Their friendship was often strained in later life, possibly as a result of the fact that Apukhtin never went out of his way to conceal his homosexuality, whilst the composer tried strenuously to mask his own. Apukhtin turned to prose in the last years of his life, and the few works that he completed appeared for the first time posthumously. The present edition contains the first English translations of The Papers of Countess D••• and The Diary of Pavlik Dolsky, and a modern translation of Between Life and Death.

Excerpt

From Aleksandr Vasilyevich Mozhaisky
(Rec. in St. Petersburg 25 March 18)

Respected Countess Yekaterina Aleksandrovna,

I hasten to fulfill the promise I gave to write to you the moment I arrived at my old long-abandoned “nest” . I am sure that my letters cannot be of interest to you, and that your command to write was given only out of courteousness, but I wish to prove to you that your every word for me is law, even when expressed as a joke. Let me first of all reply to the question, which began our last conversation at Mariya Ivanovna’s, i.e., why, and for what reason I am leaving St. Petersburg. On that occasion I replied evasively, but now I shall tell you the whole truth. I left because I am ruined; I left to save the remnants of my once sizeable fortune. St. Petersburg sucks you in like a bog, and whilst you are living in it there is no possibility of putting matters to rights. Therefore, I decided on radical measures, which, to tell the truth, have not cost me a great effort, for life in St. Petersburg has thoroughly bored me. By some incomprehensible irony of fate the last day that I spent in St. Petersburg has caused me to regret my decision greatly. That morning I called into the English shop to buy a traveling bag, and I met Mariya Ivanovna, who invited me to her place the same evening. At her soirée you were so charmingly courteous to me, you paid me so much attention and such heartfelt concern that I was almost dissuaded in my resolve. I remembered how, two years ago, during a previous soirée at Mariya Ivanovna’s, you conversed just as sweetly with Kudryashin, and how painfully I envied him. “Dmitry Kudryashin,” I thought, “he’s no more of an aristocrat than I… . . .

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