A monologue from the play by Leonid Andreyev

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Savva and The Life of Man: Two Plays by Leonid Andreyev. Trans. Thomas Seltzer. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1917.
  • SPERANSKY: How can a man in my condition do any work? Once a man begins to doubt his own existence, the obligation to work naturally ceases to exist for him. But the deacon's wife doesn't understand. She's a stupid woman, utterly lacking in education. She insists on making me work. But you can imagine the sort of work I do under the circumstances. You see, the situation is this. I have a splendid appetite. That appetite began to develop while I was a student in the seminary. Now this deaconess, if you please, makes a fuss about every piece of bread I eat. She doesn't understand, the ignorant woman, the possibility of the non-existence of this bread. If I had a real existence like the rest of you, I should feel very bad, but in my present condition her attacks don't affect me at all. Nothing affects me, Mr. Savva, nothing in the whole wide world. It began in the seminary while I was studying philosophy. It's a dreadful condition. I've grown somewhat accustomed to it now, but at first it was unendurable. I tried to hang myself once, and they cut me down. I tried a second time, and they cut me down again. Then they turned me out of the seminary. "Go hang yourself somewhere else," they said. As if there were any other place! As if all places weren't the same!