在读 A Hero of Our Time
Certainly never before had I seen a woman like her. She was by no means beautiful; but, as in other matters, I have my own prepossessions on the subject of beauty. There was a good deal of breeding in her... Breeding in women, as in horses, is a great thing: a discovery, the credit of which belongs to young France. It -- that is to say, breeding, not young France -- is chiefly to be detected in the gait, in the hands and feet; the nose, in particular, is of the greatest significance. In Russia a straight nose is rarer than a small foot.
My songstress appeared to be not more than eighteen years of age. The unusual suppleness of her figure, the characteristic and original way she had of inclining her head, her long, light-brown hair, the golden sheen of her slightly sunburnt neck and shoulders, and especially her straight nose -- all these held me fascinated. Although in her sidelong glances I could read a certain wildness and disdain, although in her smile there was a certain vagueness, yet -- such is the force of predilections -- that straight nose of hers drove me crazy. I fancied that I had found Goethe's Mignon -- that queer creature of his German imagination. And, indeed, there was a good deal of similarity between them; the same rapid transitions from the utmost restlessness to complete immobility, the same enigmatical speeches, the same gambols, the same strange songs. 引自第66页
And how often is a deception of the senses or an error of the reason accepted as a conviction! ... I prefer to doubt everything. Such a disposition is no bar to decision of character; on the contrary, so far as I am concerned, I always advance more boldly when I do not know what is awaiting me. You see, nothing can happen worse than death -- and from death there is no escape.引自第81页
There is, in sooth, a boundless enjoyment in the possession of a young, scarce-budded soul! It is like a floweret which exhales its best perfume at the kiss of the first ray of the sun. You should pluck the flower at that moment, and, breathing its fragrance to the full, cast it upon the road: perchance someone will pick it up! I feel within me that insatiate hunger which devours everything it meets upon the way; I look upon the sufferings and joys of others only from the point of view of their relation to myself, regarding them as the nutriment which sustains my spiritual foces. I myself am no longer capable of committing follies under the influence of passion; with me, ambition has been repressed by circumstances, but it has emerged in another form, because ambition is nothing more nor less than a thirst for power, and my chief pleasure is to make everything that surrounds me subject to my will. To arouse the feeling of love, devotion and awe towards oneself -- is not that the first sign, and the greatest triumph, of power? To be the cause of suffering and joy to another -- without in the least possessing any definite right to be so -- is not that the sweetest food for our pride? And what is happiness? -- Satisfied pride. Were I to consider myself the best, the most powerful man in the world, I should be happy; were all to love me, I should find within me inexhaustible springs of love. Evil begets evil: the first suffering gives us the conception of the satisfaction of torturing another. The idea of evil cannot enter the mind without arousing a desire to put it actually into practice. "Ideas are organic entities," someone has said. The very fact of their birth endows them with form, and that form is action. He is whose brain the most ideas are born accomplishes the most. From that cause a genius, chained to an official desk, must die or go mad, just as it often happens that a man of powerful constitution, and at the same time of sedentary life and simple habits, dies of an apoplectic stroke.
Passions are naught but ideas in their first development; they are an attribute of the youth of the heart, and foolish is he who thinks that he will be agitated by them all his life. Many quiet rivers begin their course as noisy waterfalls, and there is not a single stream which will leap or foam throughout its way to the sea. That quietness, however, is frequently the sign of great, though latent, strength. The fullness and depth of feelings and thoughts do not admit of frenzied outbursts. In suffering and in enjoyment the soul renders itself a strict account of all it experiences and convinces itself that such things must be. It knows that. But for storms, the constant heat of the sun would dry it up! It imbues itself with its own life - pets and punishes itself like a favorite child. It is only in that highest state of self-knowledge that a man can appreciate the divine justice.引自第117页
There is nothing more paradoxical than the female mind; it is difficult to convince a woman of anything; they have to be led into convincing themselves. The order of the proofs by which they demolish their prejudices is most original; to learn their dialectic it is necessary to overthrow in your own mind every scholastic rule of logic. For example, the usual way:
"This man loves me; but I am married; therefore I must not love him."
The woman's way:
"I must not love him, because I am married; but he loves me -- therefore"...
A few dots here, because reason has no more to say. But, generally, there's something to be said by the tongue, and the eyes, and after these, the heart -- if there is such a thing.
What if these notes should one day meet a woman's eye?
"Slander!" she will exclaim indignantly.
Ever since poets have written and women have read them (for which the poets should be most deeply grateful) women have been called angels so many times that, in very truth, in their simplicity of soul, they have believed the compliment, forgetting that, for money, the same poets have glorified Nero as a demigod...
It would be unreasonable were I to speak of women with such malignity -- I who have loved nothing else in the world -- I who have always been ready to sacrifice for their sake ease, ambition, life itself... But, you see, I am not endeavouring, in a fit of vexation and injured vanity, to pluck from them the magic veil through which only an accustomed glance can penetrate. No, all I say about them is but the result of "A mind which coldly hath observed, A heart which bears the stamp of woe."
Women ought to wish that all men knew them as well as I because I have loved them a hundred times better since I have ceased to be afraid of them and have comprehended their little weaknesses.
By the way: the other day, Werner compared women to the enchanted forest of which Tasso tells in his "Jerusalem Delivered."
"So soon as you approach," he said, "from all directions terrors, such as I pray Heaven may preserve us from, will take wing at you: duty, pride, decorum, public opinion, ridicule, contempt... You must simply go straight on without looking at them; gradually the monsters disappear, and, before you, opens a bright and quiet glade, in the midst of which blooms the green myrtle. On the other hand, woe to you if, at the first steps, your heart trembles and you turn back!"引自第132页