- Project Runeberg -  Impressions of Russia /
145

(1889) [MARC] Author: Georg Brandes Translator: Samuel Coffin Eastman - Tema: Russia
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nature. When a near friend one day said to one of the
most important, an old man, “How can a stupid woman
get such a control over a man?” he answered, “Only a
stupid woman. A man who has something to do has no
weapons against stupidity, which tires, nags, always
begins over, and never knows when it is beaten. An
amiable and intellectual woman would never gain such
an influence over her husband.”

The old Saltykof (Shchedrin), the satirist, the most
popular author of liberal Russia, at the present time is
lying ill of the gout, and it is hardly likely that he will
recover. In the eyes of those who value the tendencies
in their poetical works more than that which is essentially
poetical therein, he is a greater author than Tolstoï.
Of all the authors now living, he is certainly the one
who has most consistently made use of irony as the
style of prose writing. In his whole form he is the
unconscious product of the circumstances. With a
passion like his for justice and for civil freedom on the one
side, and the government on the other, all criticism of
the situation must necessarily assume the character of
pleasantry. But what pleasantry! Read as an illustration
his book, “Our Pompadours.”

By a remarkable change in the meaning of the word,
they mean in the daily speech in Russia by the word
Pompadour, a man who governs by the aid of the rule
of his mistress. In Saltykof’s work provincial governors
of this kind are characterized by the dozen.

As an idea of his method of representation, take this
fragment of a dialogue: The clerk is met in the morning
at the office by his superior, an official under the
governor, with the exclamation, “Do you know that our
fellow has been dismissed?” — “Of whom does your
Excellency condescend to speak to me?” — “Of whom?

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