Ending 10 – from a Russian novel published in 1866

He thought of her. He remembered how continually he had tormented her and wounded her heart. He remembered her pale and thin little face. But these recollections scarcely troubled him now; he knew with what infinite love he would now repay all her sufferings. And what were all, all the agonies of the past! Everything, even his crime, his sentence and imprisonment, seemed to him now in the first rush of feeling an external, strange fact with which he had no concern. But he could not think for long together of anything that evening, and he could not have analysed anything consciously; he was simply feeling. Life had stepped into the place of theory and something quite different would work itself out in his mind.

Under his pillow lay the New Testament. He took it up mechanically. The book belonged to Sonia; it was the one from which she had read the raising of Lazarus to him. At first he was afraid that she would worry him about religion, would talk about the gospel and pester him with books. But to his great surprise she had not once approached the subject and had not even offered him the Testament. He had asked her for it himself not long before his illness and she brought him the book without a word. Till now he had not opened it.

He did not open it now, but one thought passed through his mind: “Can her convictions not be mine now? Her feelings, her aspirations at least….”

She too had been greatly agitated that day, and at night she was taken ill again. But she was so happy—and so unexpectedly happy—that she was almost frightened of her happiness. Seven years, only seven years! At the beginning of their happiness at some moments they were both ready to look on those seven years as though they were seven days. He did not know that the new life would not be given him for nothing, that he would have to pay dearly for it, that it would cost him great striving, great suffering.

But that is the beginning of a new story—the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his passing from one world into another, of his initiation into a new unknown life. That might be the subject of a new story, but our present story is ended.

(Translation from Russian by Constance Garnett)

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About James Steerforth

I am an author of poetry and fiction, translator and painter who loves to have fun with borrowed feathers.
This entry was posted in Literature, Novel, Novel endings, Novelists, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Ending 10 – from a Russian novel published in 1866

  1. maryt says:

    James, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I taught this novel last semester! The classes liked it very much , better than The Red and The Black. Garnett is supposed to be the best and oldest translation. I used the husband-wife team of translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.

  2. Yes, you got it right again, maryt!

    Have you done any comparing of the two translations?

  3. maryt says:

    Garnett is traditional and sounds 19th century which a lot of people like. Peavear and V. are much more modern sounding using phrasing very 20th century.

  4. Then, in all fairness, the Garnett version seems to be preferable because I’m sure Dostoevsky also sounded 19th century in Russian 🙂

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