The Three Sisters 8.8分
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ACT I(4)

VERSHININ. ...A time will come when everything that seems serious, significant, or very important to us will be forgotten, or considered trivial. [Pause] And the curious thing is that we can’t possibly find out what will come to be regarded as great and important, and what will be feeble, or silly. Didn’t the discoveries of Copernicus, or Columbus, say, seem unnecessary and ludicrous at first, while wasn’t it thought that some rubbish written by a fool, held all the truth? And it may so happen that our present existence, with which we are so satisfied, will in time appear strange, inconvenient, stupid, unclean, perhaps even sinful....

ACT I(6)

VERSHININ. [Walks about the stage] I often wonder: suppose we could begin life over again, knowing what we were doing? Suppose we could use one life, already ended, as a sort of rough draft for another? I think that every one of us would try, more than anything else, not to repeat himself, at the very least he would rearrange his manner of life, he would make sure of rooms like these, with flowers and light...


ANDREY. In Moscow you can sit in an enormous restaurant where you don’t know anybody and where nobody knows you, and you don’t feel all the same that you’re a stranger. And here you know everybody and everybody knows you, and you’re a stranger... and a lonely stranger.


TUZENBACH. Well? After our time people will fly about in balloons, the cut of one’s coat will change, perhaps they’ll discover a sixth sense and develop it, but life will remain the same, laborious, mysterious, and happy. And in a thousand years’ time, people will still be sighing: “Life is hard!”--and at the same time they’ll be just as afraid of death, and unwilling to meet it, as we are.

TUZENBACH. Not only after two or three centuries, but in a million years, life will still be as it was; life does not change, it remains for ever, following its own laws which do not concern us, or which, at any rate, you will never find out. Migrant birds, cranes for example, fly and fly, and whatever thoughts, high or low, enter their heads, they will still fly and not know why or where. They fly and will continue to fly, whatever philosophers come to life among them; they may philosophize as much as they like, only they will fly....

MASHA. It seems to me that a man must have faith, or must search for a faith, or his life will be empty, empty.... To live and not to know why the cranes fly, why babies are born, why there are stars in the sky....Either you must know why you live, or everything is trivial, not worth a straw. [A pause.]


CHEBUTIKIN. [Angrily] Devil take them all... take them all.... They think I’m a doctor and can cure everything, and I know absolutely nothing, I’ve forgotten all I ever knew, I remember nothing, absolutely nothing. [OLGA and NATASHA go out, unnoticed by him] Devil take it. Last Wednesday I attended a woman in Zasip--and she died, and it’s my fault that she died. Yes... I used to know a certain amount five-and-twenty years ago, but I don’t remember anything now. Nothing. Perhaps I’m not really a man, and am only pretending that I’ve got arms and legs and a head; perhaps I don’t exist at all, and only imagine that I walk, and eat, and sleep. [Cries] Oh, if only I didn’t exist! [Stops crying; angrily] The devil only knows.... Day before yesterday they were talking in the club; they said, Shakespeare, Voltaire... I’d never read,never read at all, and I put on an expression as if I had read. And so did the others. Oh, how beastly! How petty! And then I remembered the woman I killed on Wednesday... and I couldn’t get her out of my mind, and everything in my mind became crooked, nasty, wretched.... So I went and drank....


VERSHININ. And when a little more time has gone by, in two or three hundred years perhaps, people will look at our present life with just the same fear, and the same contempt, and the whole past will seem clumsy and dull, and very uncomfortable, and strange. Oh, indeed, what a life there will be, what a life! ... There are only three persons like yourselves in the town just now, but in future generations there will be more and more, and still more, and the time will come when everything will change and become as you would have it, people will live as you do, and then you too will go out of date; people will be born who are better than you.... [Laughs] Yes, to-day I am quite exceptionally in the vein. I am devilishly keen on living.... [Sings.]


MASHA. When you read a novel it all seems so old and easy, but when you fall in love yourself, then you learn that nobody knows anything, and each must decide for himself.... My dear ones, my sisters... I’ve confessed, now I shall keep silence.... Like the lunatics in Gogol’s story, I’m going to be silent... silent...


MASHA. When you take your happiness in little bits, in snatches, and then lose it, as I have done, you gradually get coarser, more bitter. [Points to her bosom] I’m boiling in here.... [Looks at ANDREY with the perambulator] There’s our brother Andrey.... All our hopes in him have gone. There was once a great bell, a thousand persons were hoisting it, much money and labour had been spent on it, when it suddenly fell and was broken. Suddenly, for no particular reason.... Andrey is like that....

MASHA. You talk and talk the whole day long. [Going] You live in a climate like this, where it might snow any moment, and there you talk.... [Stops] I won’t go into the house, I can’t go there.... Tell me when Vershinin comes.... [Goes along the avenue] The migrant birds are already on the wing.... [Looks up] Swans or geese.... My dear, happy things.... [Exit.]


TUZENBACH. It is curious how silly trivial little things, sometimes for no apparent reason, become significant. At first you laugh at these things, you think they are of no importance, you go on and you feel that you haven’t got the strength to stop yourself. Oh don’t let’s talk about it! I am happy. It is as if for the first time in my life I see these firs, maples, beeches, and they all look at me inquisitively and wait. What beautiful trees and how beautiful, when one comes to think of it, life must be near them! [A shout of Co-ee! in the distance] It’s time I went.... There’s a tree which has dried up but it still sways in the breeze with the others. And so it seems to me that if I die, I shall still take part in life in one way or another. Good-bye, dear....


ANDREY. 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, grey, 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 imitated. They only eat, drink, sleep, and then they die... more people are born and also eat, drink, sleep, and so as not to go silly from boredom, they try to make life many-sided with their beastly backbiting, 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....


VERSHININ. What else can I say in parting? Can I philosophize about anything? [Laughs] Life is heavy. To many of us it seems dull and hopeless, but still, it must be acknowledged that it is getting lighter and clearer, and it seems that the time is not far off when it will be quite clear. [Looks at his watch] It’s time I went! Mankind used to be absorbed in wars, and all its existence was filled with campaigns, attacks, defeats, now we’ve outlived all that, leaving after us a great waste place, which there is nothing to fill with at present; but mankind is looking for something, and will certainly find it. Oh, if it only happened more quickly. [Pause] If only education could be added to industry, and industry to education. [Looks at his watch] It’s time I went....

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