Summary Red laugh LN Andreev
“… madness and horror. The first time I felt it when we were walking along the Ensk road – we walked ten hours continuously, without slowing down the course, not picking up the fallen and leaving them to the enemy who was moving behind us and through three or four hours, erasing the traces of our feet with their feet… ”
The narrator is a young literary man, drafted into an active army. In the hot steppe he is haunted by a vision: a scrap of old blue wallpaper in his office, at home, and a dusty carafe with water, and the voices of his wife and son in the next room. And yet – like an audible hallucination – he is haunted by two words: “Red laughter”.
Where do people go? Why this heat? Who are they all? What is a house, a piece of wallpaper, a decanter? He, exhausted by visions – those that before his eyes, and those that are in his mind, – sits down on a roadside stone;
The narrative of the war that he leads is like shreds, snatches of dreams and java, fixed by a half-mad mind.
Here is the battle. Three days of satanic rumbling and squealing, almost a day without sleep and food. And again before his eyes – blue wallpaper, a decanter with water… Suddenly he sees a young messenger – a volunteer, a former student: “The general asks to hold out for another two hours, and there will be reinforcements.” “I was thinking at that moment about why my son is not sleeping in the next room, and answered that I can hold out as long as I want…” The white face of the messenger, white as light, suddenly explodes with a red stain – from the neck, on which only that there was a head, blood gushing…
Here it is: Red laughter! It is everywhere: in our bodies, in the sky, in the sun, and soon it will spread all over the earth…
It is no longer possible to tell where the
He’s on the hospital bed. On the contrary, an officer resembling a dead man, recalling the battle in which he received a fatal wound. He recalls this attack in part with fear, partly with ecstasy, as if dreaming to experience the same again. “And again a bullet in the chest?” – “Well, not every time – a bullet… It would be nice and the Order of Courage! ..”
Those who in three days will be thrown on other dead bodies in a common grave, smiling dreamily, almost chuckling, speaks about the Order for bravery. Madness…
There was a feast in the infirmary: somewhere you got a samovar, tea, lemon. Ragged, skinny, dirty, maimed – they sing, laugh, remember the house. “What is a” house “? What” house “is there somewhere a” house “?” – “There are – where now we are not.” – “Where are we?” – “In war…”
… Another vision. The train slowly crawls along the rails through the battlefield, dotted with dead men. People pick up bodies – those who are still alive. Those who are able to walk are severely wounded in places in veal cars. The young nurse can not stand this madness – he shoots himself a bullet in the forehead. And the train, slowly carrying cripples “home”, is undermined by a mine: the enemy is not stopped even by the Red Cross, which is visible from afar…
The narrator is at home. Cabinet, blue wallpaper, decanter, covered with a layer of dust. Is it really in reality? He asks his wife to sit with her son in the next room. No, it seems, it’s still in reality.
Sitting in the tub, he talks to his brother: it seems that we are all going crazy. The brother nods: “You do not read the newspapers yet, they are full of words about death, about murders, about blood.” When several people stand somewhere and talk about something, it seems to me that they will now rush at each other and kill. . “
The narrator dies of wounds and insane, suicidal labor: two months without sleep, in the office with curtained windows, in electric light, at the desk, almost mechanically moving the pen across the paper. The interrupted monologue is picked up by his brother: a virus of insanity that has settled in the deceased at the front, now in the blood of the surviving. All the symptoms of a serious illness: fever, delirium, there is already no strength to fight with the red laughter that surrounds you from all sides. I want to run out onto the square and shout: “Now stop the war – or…”
But what “or”? Hundreds of thousands, millions of people wash the world with tears, cry out with their cries – and it does not give anything…
Railway station. From the car, the escort soldiers lead prisoners; a meeting with the eyes of an officer walking behind and some distance off the line. “Who is this with the eyes?” – and his eyes, like an abyss, without pupils. “The madman,” the guard answered unconcernedly, “there are so many of them…”
In the newspaper among the hundreds of names of the dead – the name of the sister of the bridegroom. Overnight, a letter comes from the newspaper, from him, killed, to the late brother. The dead – correspond, talk, discuss front-line news. This is more real than the reality in which there are still dead people. “Crow screams…” – repeated several times in a letter, still storing the warmth of the hands of the one who wrote it… All this is a lie! There is no war! The brother is alive – as is the sister of the bridegroom! The dead are alive! But then what about the living? ..
Theater. Red light is pouring from the stage to the ground floor. Horror, how many people here – and all the living. And what if I now shout:
“Fire!” – What will be the crush, how many viewers will die in this crush? He is ready to shout – and jump out onto the stage, and watch them press, choke, kill each other. And when there is silence, he will throw into the hall with a laugh: “This is because you killed a brother!”
“Silence,” someone whispered to him from the side: he, apparently, began to say his thoughts aloud… Sleep, the other is more terrible. In everyone – death, blood, dead. Children on the street play war. One, seeing a man in a window, asks for him. “No. You will kill me…”
More and more often a brother comes. And with him – other dead, recognizable and unfamiliar. They fill the house,