Early spring. The end of the century. In Russia there is a train. In the car there is a lively conversation; merchant, clerk, attorney, smoking lady and other passengers argue about the women’s question, about marriage and free love. Only love covers marriage, says the smoking lady. Here, in the middle of her speech, a strange sound of interrupted laughter or sobbing sounds, and some old, gray-haired gentleman, with impulsive movements, interferes in a general conversation. Up to now, he had answered sharply and briefly to the neighbouring of his neighbors, avoiding communication and acquaintance, and smoking more and more, looking out the window or drinking tea, and at the same time was clearly burdened by his loneliness. So what kind of love, the lord asks, what do you mean by true love? The preference of one person to another? But how much? For a year, a month, an hour? It’s only in novels happens, in life is never. Spiritual affinity? The unity of ideals? But in this case there is no need to sleep together. And, you, really, have learned me? How not? Yes, I’m the same Pozdnyshev, that he killed his wife. Everyone is silent, the conversation is spoiled.
Here is the true story of Pozdnishev, told by himself that same night to one of the fellow travelers, a story of how he was brought to this very love with what happened to him. Pozdnyshev, landowner and university candidate (he was even the leader) lived before his marriage, like everyone in his circle. Lived (in his current opinion) is depraved, but, living in a depraved way, believed that he lived, as it should, even morally. He was not a seducer, he did not have “unnatural tastes”, did not make the goal of his life from debauchery, but was given to him sedately, decently, rather for health, avoiding women who could tie him up. Meanwhile, he could not have had a clean relationship with a woman for a long time, he was, as they say, a “fornicator”, like a morphine, a drunkard, a smoker. Then, as Pozdnyshev put it, without going into details, all deviations also went.
One evening they rode in a boat and at night, in the moonlight, returned home. Pozdnyshev admired her slender figure, covered with a jersey (which he remembered well), and suddenly decided that it was her. It seemed to him that she understood at that moment all that he felt, and he, as it seemed then, thought the most exalted things, and in fact the jersey was especially to her face, and after a day spent with her, he returned home in ecstasy, confident that she is “the top of moral perfection”, and already the next day made an offer. Since he married not money and not connections (she was poor), and besides had the intention to stay after the marriage of “monogamy,” then his pride had no limits. (I was a terrible pig, and imagined that an angel, confessed Pozdnyshev to his fellow traveler.) However, everything went wrong at once, The honeymoon did not add up. All the time it was nasty, embarrassing and boring. On the third or fourth day Pozdnishev found his wife bored, began to ask, hugged, she cried, unable to explain. And she was sad and hard, and her face expressed unexpected coldness and hostility. How? What? Love is the union of souls, but instead, that’s what! Pozdnyshev shuddered. Could it be that the love was exhausted by the satisfaction of sensuality and they remained completely strangers against each other? Pozdnyshev did not yet understand that this hostility was normal, not a temporary state. But then there was another quarrel, then another, and Pozdnyshev felt that he “got caught”, that marriage is not something pleasant, but, on the contrary, very difficult, but he did not want to admit it to himself or others. (This bitterness, he reasoned later, was nothing more,
At the age of eight they had five children, but life with children was not joy, but flour. The wife was child-loving and gullible, and family life turned into a permanent salvation from imaginary or real dangers. The presence of children gave new reasons for strife, the relationship became more hostile. For the fourth year they already talked simply: “What time is it? It’s time to sleep, what’s the dinner now?” “To go, what is written in the newspaper?” To send for the doctor. “The throat hurts from Masha.” He watched as she poured tea, brought the spoon to her mouth, squished, sucked in the liquid, and hated her for it. “You have a good grimace,” he thought, “you’ve tortured me with scenes all night, and I have a meeting.” “You are well,” she thought, “but I did not sleep with the child all night.” And they not only thought so, but also spoke, and so they would live, as if in a fog, Do not understand yourself if it had not happened that it happened. His wife seemed to have woken up since she stopped giving birth (doctors suggested the means), and the constant anxiety about the children began to subside, she seemed to wake up and saw a whole world with his joys, about which she had forgotten. Oh, how not to miss! Time will pass, you will not return! From her youth she was taught that in the world there is one worthy of attention – love; getting married, she got something out of this love, but not all that was expected. Love with her husband was not the same, she began to introduce some other, new, clean love, and she looked around, waiting for something, again took up the piano thrown before… And then this man appeared. and the constant anxiety about the children began to subside, she seemed to wake up and saw a whole world with his joys, about which she had forgotten. Oh, how not to miss! Time will pass, you will not return! From her youth she was taught that in the world there is one worthy of attention – love; getting married, she got something out of this love, but not all that...
He was a musician, a violinist, the son of a ruined landowner, who graduated from the conservatory in Paris and returned to Russia. His name was Trukhachevsky. (Pozdnyshev could not even speak of him now without hatred: his damp eyes, his red, smiling lips, his filigree tendrils, his face turned-pretty, and his mannered fun, spoke more and more with hints and fragments.) Truhachevsky, after arriving in Moscow, went to Pozdnyshev, he introduced him to his wife, immediately talked about music, he invited her to play with her, she was delighted, and Pozdnishev pretended that he was glad not to think that he was jealous. Then Trukhachevsky came with a violin, they played, his wife seemed interested in one music, but Pozdnyshev suddenly saw (or he thought he saw), like the beast sitting in both of them, asked: “Can I?” – and answered: “You can.” Trukhachevsky had no doubts that this Moscow lady agreed. Pozdnyshev also gave him dinner at expensive wine, admired his play, called again on the following Sunday to eat lunch and barely restrained himself so as not to kill him immediately.
Soon a dinner was organized, boring, feigned. Quite soon the music began, Kreutzer’s sonata was played by Beethoven, his wife on a piano, Trukhachevsky on a violin. The terrible thing is this sonata, a terrible thing is music, thought Pozdnyshev. And this terrible tool in the hands of anyone. Can Kreutzer Sonata play in the living room? Play, pat, eat ice cream? Hear it and live as before, without doing those important things that music has tuned into? It’s scary, destructive. But Pozdnyshev shook Trukhachevsky’s hand with a sincere feeling for the first time and thanked him for the pleasure.
The evening ended well, everyone left. And two days later Pozdnieshev went to the county in the best possible mood, there was an abyss of cases. But one night, in bed, Pozdnyshev woke up with a “dirty” idea about her and about Trukhachevsky. Horror and anger tightened his heart. How can it be? And how can it not be, if he himself on her for this and married, and now the same from her wants another person. That person is healthy, unmarried, “between them is the connection of music – the most subtle lust of feelings.” What can keep them? Nothing. He did not fall asleep all night, at five o’clock he got up, woke the watchman, sent for the horses, at eight he went to the tarantas and drove off. It was necessary to ride thirty-five versts on horseback and eight hours by train, waiting was awful. What did he want? He wanted his wife not to want what she wanted and even had to wish for. As in delirium, he drove up to his porch, it was the first hour of the night, lights were still burning in the windows. He asked the footman who’s in the house. Hearing that Trukhachevsky, Pozdnishev nearly sobbed, but the devil immediately prompted him: do not be sentimental, they will disperse, there will be no evidence… It was quiet, the children slept, the lackey Pozdnishev sent to the station for things and locked the door behind him. He took off his boots and, remaining in stockings, took from the wall a curved damask dagger, never used and terribly sharp. Gently stepping, went there, sharply flung open the door. He always remembered the expression of their faces, this was an expression of horror. Pozdnishev rushed to Trukhachevsky, but on his hand hung a sudden weight – his wife, Pozdnishev thought that it would be ridiculous to catch up with his wife’s lover in some stockings, he did not want to be ridiculous and hit his wife with a dagger in left side, and immediately pulled it out, wishing to correct and stop what had been done. “Nurse, he killed me!”, Blood rushed from under the corset. “I achieved my…” – and through her physical suffering and the proximity of death her familiar animal hatred was expressed (about the same thing that was important to him, about treason, she did not consider it necessary to speak). Only later, when he saw her in the coffin, he began to understand what he had done, that he had killed her, that she was alive, warm, and she became motionless, waxy, cold and that this can never be corrected anywhere, nowhere. He spent eleven months in jail awaiting trial, was acquitted. The children were taken by his sister-in-law. about treason, she did not consider it necessary to speak). Only later, when he saw her in the coffin, he began to understand what he had done, that he had killed her, that she was alive, warm, and she became motionless, waxy, cold and that this can never be corrected anywhere, nowhere. He spent eleven months in jail awaiting trial, was acquitted. The children were taken by his sister-in-law. about treason, she did not consider it necessary to speak). Only later, when he saw her in the coffin, he began to understand what he had done, that he had killed her, that she was alive, warm, and she became motionless, waxy, cold and that this can never be corrected anywhere, nowhere. He spent eleven months in jail awaiting trial, was acquitted. The children were taken by his sister-in-law.