Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Dream of a Ridiculous Man


Another old friend...



Fyodor Dostoevsky
1879

[click to enlarge]


I am a ridiculous man. They call me a madman now. That would be a distinct rise in my social position were it not that they still regard me as being as ridiculous as ever. But that does not make me angry any more. They are all dear to me now even while they laugh at me — yes, even then they are for some reason particularly dear to me. I shouldn’t have minded laughing with them — not at myself, of course, but because I love them — had I not felt so sad as I looked at them. I feel sad because they do not know the truth, whereas I know it. Oh, how hard it is to be the only man to know the truth! But they won’t understand that. No, they will not understand.

“The Dream of a Ridiculous Man” (opening paragraph)
Translated by David Magarshack



Update:
In the Forum: To be or not to be: it’s the law.

13 comments:

Elisabeth said...

He has the beard, William, but not the head of hair.

Oh to be such a 'ridiculous' man as to think you know the 'truth'. This is a wonderful quote, layered with meaning. Tongue in cheek?

RUDHI - Chance said...

Really ridiculous truth! I like this PRIMITIVE *Idiot* too! Because he's Sagitarius and Chinese *Snake* too like me; we have similar tastes of friendships, Williammm... Thats a good portrait of this Genius!

William Michaelian said...

Elisabeth, this is simply the opening paragraph of one of my favorite short stories — although, I must say, I do identify with the title.... But you have to read the whole story to fully appreciate these words. I’ve read it numerous times, and it still gives me shivers.

I love this portrait, Rudhi. Disturbed genius, one of the great writers of all time. Primitive Idiot friends....

Stickup Artist said...

Your taste in literature is exquisite. Not that you need me to tell you so or to agree, but I have done so and do.

William Michaelian said...

And I’m the happier for it, because, like your great photos, it tells me something more about you. Thanks!

Janice said...

What a man...he still loves those who have laughed at him. What truth is is that he knows William? I would not laugh at him...I would not laugh at anyones dreams.

William Michaelian said...

Oh, Janice, you know, the usual silly stuff — peace, innocence, brotherhood.... There’s a brief rundown of the story on Wikipedia.

Anthony Duce said...

You have to admire those who manage to achieve the status of ridiculous.

William Michaelian said...

And you have to pity those who think they are not....

Obiterspeak said...

they say there is a thin line between madness and genius... they also say that if a man thinks he is insane, chances are he isn't... i suppose then (it follows) that if a man thinks he's ridiculous or a genius, chances are he isn't? - but who is THEY?

William Michaelian said...

I don’t know. But for some reason they are particularly dear to me, the poor, misguided souls.

Obiterspeak said...

the passage also suggests there is a thin line between pity and contempt - maybe the euphemism (or thin veil) or the resort to pity (feeling sad for them/they that do not understand) is necessary because the man thinks he is above feeling contempt, anger or indignation.

thanks for this interesting post, William :-)

William Michaelian said...

Thank you, too, Regina.

Does he feel pity? He says only that he feels sad, because they do not know the truth. The whole answer, of course, is in the story itself.