Expressing Yourself

From The Adolescent, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I may have done a bad thing in sitting down to write: there’s infinitely more inside me than I have expressed in words. An idea, even if a bad one, is always more profound while it’s still with you, but when put into words – it’s largely ridiculous and dishonourable. Versilov told me that the opposite happens only with bad people. They simply lie; to them it comes easily. I’m trying to write the whole truth and it’s terribly hard!

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To Be Alive

From Youth, by Leo Tolstoy

“Well, now for some sleep,” he said.

“Yes,” I replied, “just one more thing.”

“Go ahead.”

“Is it wonderful to be alive in this world?”

“Yes, it is,” he replied with such a voice that I felt I could see the expression of his joyful, tender eyes and his childlike smile in the dark.

A Handsome Face

From Childhood, by Leo Tolstoy

I had the strangest notions of beauty – I even regarded Karl Ivanych as the most handsome man in the world, but I also knew very well that I was not good-looking, and I was not at all mistaken about that; therefore any comments on my looks offended me deeply.

I remember well how one evening – I was six then – there was a discussion about my face; she said that I had intelligent eyes and a pleasant smile, and finally, giving way to Papa’s arguments and to the obvious, she was forced to admit that I was ugly, and then, when I thanked her for dinner, she patted me on the cheek and said:

“You should know, Nikolyenka, that no one will love you for your face; that’s why you must try and be a good and clever boy.”

Those words not only convinced me that I was not handsome but also that I would definitely be a good, clever boy.
In spite of this, I often suffered moments of despair. I imagined that there was no happiness on earth for a person like me, with such a broad nose, thick lips and small grey eyes. I asked God to perform a miracle – to turn me into a good-looking man, and I would have given anything I had then and everything I would have in the future in return for a handsome face.

The Drum Beats

“But why trouble oneself with unanswerable questions? The drum beats, it is time to be back in our wards.”

The House of the Dead – Dostoyevsky

Burdening Myself

From The Devils by Fyodor Dostoyevsky:

‘I can’t understand it!’ Stavrogin said angrily. ‘Why does everybody expect something from me that is not expected from anybody else? Why should I put up with things no one else puts up with? Why should I agree to burdens no one else can bear?’

‘I thought you were looking for a burden yourself.’

‘Me looking for a burden?’

‘Yes.’

‘You – you realized that?’

‘Yes.’

‘Is it so noticeable?’

‘Yes.’