LN Andreev The
Life of Man
Throughout the action on the scene are Someone in the gray and second nameless character, silently standing in the far corner. In the prologue Someone in gray addresses the public with an explanation of what will be presented to her. This is the life of Man, all from birth to the hour of death, like a candle, which he, the witness of life, will hold in his hand. In front of him and the audience, a person will go through all the stages of being, from the bottom to the top – and from the top to the bottom. Restrained by sight, Man will never see the next step; The man will not hear the voice of fate; limited by knowledge, does not guess what the next minute bears him. Happy young man. Proud husband and father. A weak old man. Candle, consumed by fire. A string of paintings, where in different guises – all the same Man.
… Listening to the cries of the woman in childbirth, giggling old women are talking on the stage. As a man
screams alone, one of the old women notices: everyone is talking – and they are not heard, but one screams – and it seems as if all the others are listening in silence. And how strange a man screams, the second old woman grins: when you are hurt yourself, you do not notice how strange your cry is. And how ridiculous the children are! How helpless! How difficult they are born – animals give birth easier… And they die easier… And they live easier…
Old women – a lot, but they seem to chant a monologue.
They are interrupted by someone in gray, announcing: A man was born. The Father of Man goes through the stage with the doctor, admitting how he suffered during this hours the appearance of his son in the light, how sorry his wife, how he hates the baby who brought her suffering, how she executes herself for her pains… And how grateful he is to God, who heard his prayer, realized his dream of a son!
On the stage – relatives. Their cues are like a continuation of the murmuring of the old women. They with the most serious kind discuss the problems of choosing
a name for a Man, feeding him and bringing him up, his health, and then somehow imperceptibly pass on to questions much more prosaic: is it possible to smoke here and the better to remove fat stains from the dress.
… The man has grown. He has a beloved wife and a favorite profession (he is an architect), but he has no money. Neighbors gossip on stage about how strange it is: these two are young and beautiful, healthy and happy, they are pleasant to look at, but they are unbearably sorry: they are always hungry. Why so? For what and for what?
Man and his Wife embarrassedly tell each other of envy of the well-fed and rich people they meet on the street.
“The elegant ladies pass me by,” says the Wife of Man, “I look at their hats, I hear the rustling of their silk skirts and I do not rejoice at it, but I say to myself:” I do not have such a bonnet! I do not have such a silk skirt! “” And when I walk down the street and see something that does not belong to us, “the Man replies,” I feel like my fangs grow. If someone inadvertently pushes me in the crowd, I expose my fangs. ”
Man swears to Gene: they will get out of poverty.
” Imagine our home is a magnificent palace! Imagine that you are the queen of the ball! Imagine playing an amazing orchestra – for us and our guests! ”
And the Man’s Wife imagines it all with ease.
… And now it came true! He is rich, he has no rebound from customers, his wife is bathed in luxury. In their palace – a wonderful ball, the magic orchestra plays – whether human-like musical instruments, or people like instruments. Twisted pairs of young people, admiringly chatting: what an honor for them to be at the ball at the Man.
A man enters – he has aged considerably. For wealth he paid for years of his life. His wife also grew old. With them a solemn procession through the suite of glittering rooms is accompanied by numerous friends with white roses in their buttonholes and, no less, the enemies of Man with yellow roses. Young couples, interrupting the dance, follow everyone on a fabulous feast.
… He again became impoverished. The fashion for his creations has passed. Friends and enemies helped him squander the accumulated state. Now the rats are running only rats, the guests have not been here for a long time. The house is dilapidated, nobody buys it. The son of Man dies. The Man and his Wife rise to their knees and pray with prayer to the One who stood motionless in the far corner: she – with a humble mother’s entreaty, he – with the demand of justice. This is not filial complaint, but the conversation of a man with a man, father with the Father, an old man with an old man.
“Do humble flatterers have to love more than brave and proud people?” the Man asks. And he does not hear a word in return. The Son of Man dies-that means his prayer is not heard! The person cries out to the person who watches him from the corner of the stage.
“I curse the day that I was born, and the day that I die, I curse myself – eyes, ears, tongue, heart – and all of this throw your cruel face in Yours! And by my curse I conquer You! .. ”
… Drunkards and old women in the tavern are surprised: there is a man sitting at a table, he drinks a little, but sits a lot! What would that mean? Drunken delirium is interspersed with replicas, born, it seems, in the dying consciousness of Man, – echoes of the past, the echo of his whole life.
There are musicians – both those, and not those that once played at balls in the palace of Man. It is difficult to understand: they are or are not they, how difficult it is to recall the past life and everything that a Man has lost – a son, wife, friends, home, wealth, glory, life itself…
The old women turn around the table, behind which the man sits, with his head bowed. Their dance parodies the wonderful dance of young ladies at the old ball at the Man.
In the face of death, he stands up to his full height, throws back his fine gray head, and yells loudly, loudly, desperately – asking whether the sky, or drunkards, or the spectators, or the One in gray:
“Where is my squire? Where is my sword?” Where is my shield? ”
Someone in gray looks at the candle stump – she is about to blink the last time and go out. “I’m disarmed!” exclaims the Man, and darkness surrounds him.