Friday, June 22, 2007

Do you suppose you'll find a room in Russia--or work?

“Where are you going, Vladimir Ilich?” said the landlord, holding Lenin’s hand and regarding him with pity. “What madness makes you want to return to Russia? What will you do there? Do you suppose you’ll find a room in Russia—or work? Take my advice, Vladimir Ilich, and stay here in peace.”

“I have to go,” Lenin replied.

And he left. He set foot on Russian soil with his little cap, his clean frayed shirt, his shabby coat—an army of one, stubby, pale, and unarmed. Over against him: the boundless Russian land, the sinister, brutalized muzhiks, the roisterous aristocrats, the all-powerful priesthood, the fortresses, palaces, prisons, and barracks, the old laws, the old morals, and the knout. The fearful empire, armed to the teeth. There he stood with his little cap, his tiny Mongolian eyes staring fixedly into the air, while inside him a dancing, whistling demon gnashed his teeth and spoke.

“All this is yours, Vladimir Ilich.”

--Nikos Kazantzakis, Report to Greco

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