Wednesday, December 02, 2009

First Words (15)

"Sheepwater, 20 March 18— The doctor has just left me. I've finally got some sense out of him! Try as he might, he finally had to come clean. Yes, I'll soon die, very soon. The rivers'll thaw out and I'll probably float away with the last snow....Where to? God only knows! And into the sea — well, if one must die, one might as well die in the spring. But doesn't it seem comic to be beginning one's diary with perhaps only two more weeks to live? What of it? What makes fourteen days any less a time than fourteen years or fourteen centuries? In the face of eternity, they say, all things are as nothing; but in that case eternity itself is a mere nothing. It seems I'm falling prey to philosophical musings, which is a bad sign — am I perhaps getting cold feet? I'd better start telling my story. Outside it's bitterly damp and windy and I've been forbidden to go out. So what's there to tell? A decent man doesn't speak of his ill health; and it's not my business to go rattling off yarns; and I haven't the capacity for deliberating on elevated matters; and descriptions of the surrounding scene would bore even me, just as I am bored by doing nothing and I'm too apathetic to read. Hey-ho, then, I'll tell myself the story of my own life. What a splendid idea! With death approaching that's a respectable thing to do and unlikely to cause offence to anyone. I am starting now."

Ivan Turgenev, The Diary of a Superfluous Man

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