A monologue from the play by Leonid Andreyev
Adapted by Walter Wykes
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted with the author’s permission. All inquiries should be directed to the author at: firstname.lastname@example.org
HE: You’re a fake—that’s what you are. An impostor. You talk about your book—your great success. And it’s true, there isn’t a newspaper or journal to be found in which you and your book aren’t favorably mentioned. Everyone loves you. You’re the man of the hour! Who remembers me? No one. I’ve been banished to obscurity. And the critics were glad to see me go, too. It was too much effort to extract thought from my heavy abstractions. It overworked their poor little brains. But you—the great vulgarizer! You made my thoughts comprehensible even to pigs and horses! They don’t have to think anymore. They don’t have to reason. You’ve absolved them of that. They simply read your words and spout them back like some sort of silly mantra. You dressed my Apollo in a second-hand suit, my Venus in a cheap dress, and gave my principled hero the ears of an ass! But what do you care—your career is made. No one is conscious of the theft. They applaud you wherever you go. Other writers imitate you. You’ll be known as the father of an important movement. Meanwhile, I can’t pick up the paper without being confronted by faces in which I recognize the traits of my own children. My literary children. The fruit of long years of devotion to my craft. Countless hours, locked away in my study, struggling to unlock the secrets of a new language, a new vernacular, stripping away conventions. And I succeeded. I finally did it! Yet, none of my children recognize me. I’m a stranger. They know only you. It isn’t enough that you’ve stolen my wife—you’ve stolen my children as well! My legacy! And now you come to me because … why? You feel guilty? You want my blessing? You want me to pat you on the back and tell you it’s okay?! Fine. It’s yours. It’s all yours. Take it! My wife! My children! My ideas! Assume all rights! You are my lawful heir! [Pause.] It’s funny. There was a time when I loved you … even thought you a little gifted. You—my empty shadow.