In the “smoke” of Turgenev Potugin said: “Venus Milo is undoubtedly the principles of the eighty-ninth year.” What does this word mean? In fact, everyone is on the same line: the principles, and Venus Milo, and I, the village teacher Tyapushkin. Yesterday I went to the provincial town and was depressed by the fact that the society there is absolutely no convictions. When I drove back, the train was stopped for two minutes to land recruits on him. I was amazed by this scene, which stressed the misfortune of every family deprived of a son. At home, I began to think about the past and realized that my life was a series of unpleasant memories. In a dream, suddenly, I felt happy, but when I woke up, I could not understand what kind of memory was the cause. And then I saw the image of Venus de Milo from the Louvre.
Twelve years ago I was in Paris a teacher of children of Ivan Ivanovich Polumrakov. I was considered a nihilist, but allowed to teach children, because they considered nihilists incapable of instilling in children anything bad. At this time, Paris retired after the war and the Commune. We concluded that the main difference between Russia and France is that “their” person remains a man, even by bringing plates, and we lackeys are a trait. The same with women of cheeky behavior. We were present on the courts, where with all the communards were cut without regret, but without falseness. In the bureaucracy of Versailles, too, there is no falsehood. In London, we also saw the “truth” when the restaurant served meat without any frills. In Greenwich, we tried a famous dinner – a “small fish”, consisting of fish dishes also without ornaments.
In Paris, we became bored, we...went without interest in the exhibitions. After watching the English “truth” and the corpses of the Communards, personifying the “truth” of the French, I went for a walk in the worst possible mood in the morning and came upon the Louvre. There I stopped at Venus de Milo. I used to look like a crumpled glove, but now it seems that I was filled with air. Since that day, I often began to come to the Louvre, but I could not understand how the sculpture could “straighten out” the human soul. Now I looked at the previous conclusions differently. What kind of human dignity can a servant have? Serving is an insult to a person in principle. This is not “true”, it is “not true.” There is nothing natural in hard labor. Man is disfigured by it. I recalled Fet’s poems “Venus de Milo”. Fet did not understand Venus, singing in her just a woman’s beauty. But the sculptor did not want to demonstrate the beauty of the female body. He did not think about sex, age. His goal was to straighten crumpled souls.
I, Tyapushkin, am glad that the work of art supports me in my desire to work for the people. I will not humble myself until the “truth” that I saw in Europe. To keep dignity, being a lackey, a banker, a beggar, a “kokotka” – is to humiliate himself all the same until the need to endure these ugliness.
Four years later I was back in Paris, but did not go to see Venus of Milo, because my soul crumpled again, and I did not think that it would straighten. But now here in the wilderness the memory of her brought me happiness. I’ll hang myself a picture of her so she encourages me.