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A monologue from the play by Anton Chekhov
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Moscow Arts Theatre Series of Plays. Ed. Oliver M. Sayler. New York: Brentanos, 1922.
Oh, what has become of my past and where is it? I used to be young, happy, clever, I used to be able to think and frame clever ideas,
the present and the future seemed to me full of hope. Why do we almost before we have begun to live, become dull,
gray, uninteresting, lazy, apathetic, useless, unhappy? … This town has already been in existence for two hundred years and it has a hundred thousand inhabitants,
not one of whom is in any way different from the others. There has never been, now or at any other time, a single leader of men,
a single scholar, an artist, a man of even the slightest eminence who might arouse envy or a passionate desire to be emulated.
They only eat, drink, sleep, and then they die . . . more people are born and also eat, drink, sleep, and so as not to become half-witted out of sheer boredom,
they try to make life many-sided with their beastly back-biting, vodka, cards, and litigation. The wives deceive their husbands,
and the husbands lie, and pretend they see nothing and hear nothing, and the evil influence irresistibly oppresses the children
and the divine spark in them is extinguished, and they become just as pitiful corpses and just as much like one another as their fathers and mothers …