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White Nights

White Nights

A Sentimental Novel

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(From the Memoirs of a Dreamer)

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...Or was he destined from the start,


to stay for just a fleeting moment
in the proximity of your heart?...
Ivan Turgenev

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The First Night

t was a wonderful night, such a night as is only possible when we are


young, dear reader. The sky was so starry, so bright that, looking at it, one
could not help asking oneself whether ill-humoured and capricious people
could live under such a sky. That is a youthful question too, dear reader,
very youthful, but may the Lord put it more frequently into your soul!...

Be ly`e nochi
Sentimental`ny`i` roman
(Iz vospominanii` mechtatelia)
...Il` by`l on sozdan dlia togo,
Shto by` poby`t` hotia mgnoven`e
V sose dstve serdtsa tvoego?..
Iv. Turge nev

Noch` pervaia

y`la chudnaia noch`, taka ia noch`, kotoraia razve to l`ko i mozhet by`t`
togda, kogda my` mo lody`, liubezny`i` chitatel`. Ne bo by` lo takoe
zvyozdnoe, takoe svetloe ne bo, shto vzglianuv na nego, nevo l`no nuzhno
by` lo sprosi t ` sebia: neuzhe li zhe mogut zhit` pod taki m
ne bom razny`e
serdi t y`e i kapri z ny`e liudi? E`to tozhe molodo i` vopros, liubezny`i` chitatel`,
ochen` molodo i`, no poshli ego vam Gospod ` chashche na dushu!..

Vocabulary
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white; fair
night; night-time
sentimental; soppy; sweet; tearjerker
novel; affair; romance
remembrance; recollection; reminiscence;
memoirs; memory; flashback
dreamer; visionary; illusionist; castle-builder;
day-dreamer
create; produce; build up; prepare; frame;
construct; shape; set up; build; coin; compose;
erect; form; found; make; mint; mould
moment; instant; twinkling; flash; minute; second

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White Nights

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Speaking of capricious and ill-humoured people, I cannot help recalling my


virtuous behaviour all that day. From early morning I had been oppressed
by a strange despondency. It suddenly seemed to me that I was lonely, that
every one was forsaking me and going away from me. Of course, any one is
entitled to ask who every one was. For though I had been living for eight
years in Petersburg I had hardly an acquaintance. But what did I want with
acquaintances? I was acquainted with all Petersburg as it was; that was why
I felt as though they were all deserting me when all Petersburg packed up
and suddenly went to its summer villa. I felt afraid of being left alone, and
for three whole days I wandered about the town in profound dejection, not
knowing what was the matter with me. Whether I walked in the Nevsky,
went to the Garden or sauntered on the embankment, there was not one
face of those I had been accustomed to meet at the same time and place all
the year. They, of course, do not know me, but I know them. I know them
intimately, I have almost made a study of their faces, and am delighted
when they are gay, and downcast when they are under a cloud. I have almost struck up a friendship with one old man whom I meet every blessed
day, at the same hour in Fontanka. Such a grave, pensive countenance; he
is always whispering to himself and brandishing his left arm, while in his

Govoria o kapri z ny`kh i razny`kh serdi t y`kh gospoda k h, ia ne mog


ne pripomnit` i svoego blagonravnogo povedeniia vo ves` e`tot den`. S
samogo utra menia sta la muchit` kaka ia-to udivi t el`naia toska. Mne
vdrug pokaza los`, shto menia, odino kogo, vse pokida iut i shto vse ot menia otstupa iutsia. Ono, konechno, vsia kii` vprave sprosi t `: kto zhe e`ti vse?
potomu shto vot uzhe vosem` let, kak ia zhivu v Peterburge, i pochti ni
odnogo znakomstva ne ume l zavesti . No k chemu mne znakomstva? Mne i
bez togo znakom ves` Peterburg; vot pochemu mne i pokaza los`, shto menia
vse pokida iut, kogda ves` Peterburg podnia lsia i vdrug ue hal na dachu. Mne
strashno sta lo ostavat`sia odnomu, i tse ly`kh tri dnia ia brodi l po gorodu v
glubo koi` toske, reshi t el`no ne ponima ia, shto so mnoi` de laetsia. Poi`du
li na Nevskii`, poi`du li v sad, brozhu li po na berezhnoi` ni odnogo litsa
iz tekh, kogo privy` k vstrechat` v tom zhe meste, v izvestny`i` chas tse ly`i`
god. Oni , konechno, ne zna iut menia, da ia-to ikh zna iu. Ia korotko ikh
zna iu; ia pochti izuchi l ikh fizionomii i liubu ius` na nikh, kogda oni vesely`, i handriu, kogda oni zatumaniatsia. Ia pochti svyol druzhbu s odni m

starichkom, kotorogo vstrecha iu kazhdy`i` bozhii` den`, v izvestny`i` chas,


na Fontan ke. Fizionomiia taka ia vazhnaia, zadumchivaia; vsyo shepchet
pod nos i mahaet levoi` ruko i`, a v pravoi` u nego dli n naia suchkovataia

Vocabulary
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capricious; whimsical; fanciful; flighty; fretful;


cranky; moody; naughty; wayward; arbitrary
speak; say; tell; talk
various; different; diverse; unlike; varied;
random; miscellaneous
gentleman; mister; sir
angry; mad; wrathful; irascible; fretful; cross
well-mannered; modest; orderly; well-behaved;
prudish; good-natured; chaste; virtuous
conduct; behaviour; bearing; action; demeanour;
dealing; deportment
torture; vex; worry; torment; agonize; bedevil;
excruciate; harrow; plague; victimize; tantalize
suddenly; all at once; all of a sudden; out of the
blue; lo and behold

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right hand he holds a long gnarled stick with a gold knob. He even notices
me and takes a warm interest in me. If I happen not to be at a certain time in
the same spot in Fontanka, I am certain he feels disappointed. That is how
it is that we almost bow to each other, especially when we are both in good
humour. The other day, when we had not seen each other for two days and
met on the third, we were almost touching our hats, but, realizing in time,
dropped our hands and passed each other with a look of interest. I know
the houses too. As I walk along they seem to run forward in the streets to
look out at me from every window, and almost to say: Good-morning!
How do you do? I am quite well, thank God, and I am to have a new storey
in May, or, How are you? I am being redecorated tomorrow; or, I was
almost burnt down and had such a fright, and so on. I have my favourites
among them, some are dear friends; one of them intends to be treated by
the architect this summer. I shall go every day on purpose to see that the
treatment is not overdone, God preserve it!... But I shall never forget an
incident with a very pretty little house of a light pink colour. It was such a
charming little brick house, it looked so hospitably at me, and so proudly
at its ungainly neighbours, that my heart rejoiced whenever I happened to

trost` s zoloty`m nabaldashnikom. Dazhe on zametil menia i prinimaet vo


mne dushevnoe uchastie. Sluchi s `, shto ia ne budu v izvestny`i` chas na tom
zhe meste Fontan ki, ia uveren, shto na nego napadyot handra. Vot otchego
my` inogda chut` ne claniaemsia drug s drugom, oso benno kogda o ba v
horoshem raspolozhenii du ha. Namedni, kogda my` ne vida lis` tse ly`e dva
dnia i na tretii` den` vstretilis`, my` uzhe by` lo i skhvati lis` za shliapy`, da
blago opomnilis` vovremia, opusti li ru ki i s uchastiem proshli drug podle
druga. Mne tozhe i doma znakomy`. Kogda ia idu, kazhdy`i` kak budto
zabegaet vperyod menia na u litsu, gliadi t na menia vo vse o k na i chut` ne
govori t : Zdravstvui`te; kak vashe zdorov`e? i ia, slava Bogu, zdorov, a ko
mne v mae mesiatse pribaviat e`tazh. I li: Kak vashe zdorov`e? a menia
zavtra v pochi n ku. I li: Ia chut` ne sgore l i pritom ispuga lsia i t. d. Iz
nikh u menia est` liubi m
tsy`, est` korotkie priiateli; odi n iz nikh nameren
lechi t `sia e`to leto u arhite ktora. Narochno budu zahodi t ` kazhdy`i` den`,
shtob ne zalechi li ka k-nibud `, sokhrani ego Gospodi!.. No nikogda ne
zabudu istorii s odni m
prehoroshen`kim svetlo-rozovy`m domikom. E`to
by`l tako i` mi len`kii` kamenny`i` domik, tak privetlivo smotre l na menia,
tak gordeli v o smotre l na svoi k h neucliuzhikh sosedei`, shto moyo serdtse

Vocabulary
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long; tall; lank


notice; mark; observe; remark; reprove; behold;
comment; distinguish; note; spy; gain sight of;
get sight of; take notice
take; accept; receive; admit; pass; adopt; assume;
accede; embrace; take in; put on; carry
mental; sincere; hearty; internal; soulful;
heartful; warm-hearted; heartfelt; heartwarming
participation; interest; sympathy; concern;
contribution; share; part; partnership
happen; befall; come; eventuate; occur
known; familiar; well-known; renowned;
famous; notorious; certain; distinguished;
reputed; famed; illustrious; noted; prominent

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pass it. Suddenly last week I walked along the street, and when I looked at
my friend I heard a plaintive, They are painting me yellow! The villains!
The barbarians! They had spared nothing, neither columns, nor cornices,
and my friend turned as yellow as a canary. It almost made me bilious. And
to this day I have not had the courage to visit my poor disfigured friend,
painted the colour of the Celestial Empire.

radovalos`, kogda mne slucha los` prohodi t ` mi m


o. Vdrug, na proshloi`
nede le, ia prohozhu po u litse i, kak posmotre l na priiatelia sly`shu
zha lobny`i` krik: A menia krasiat v zhyo ltuiu krasku! Zlode i! var vary`!
oni ne poshchadi li nichego: ni kolon n, ni karni z ov, i moi` priiatel` pozhelte l,
kak kanare i`ka. U menia chut` ne razlilas` zhyolch` po e`tomu sluchaiu, i ia
eshchyo do sikh por ne v si lakh by`l povidat`sia s izurodovanny`m moi m

bedniakom, kotorogo raskrasili pod tsvet podnebesnoi` imperii.


Ita k, vy` ponimaete, chitatel`, kaki m
o brazom ia znakom so vsem
Peterburgom.
Ia uzhe skaza l, shto menia tse ly`e tri dnia muchilo bespoko i`stvo,
pokamest ia dogada lsia o prichi n e ego. I na u litse mne by` lo hudo (togo
net, e`togo net, kuda de lsia tako i`-to?) da i doma ia by`l sam ne svoi`. Dva
vechera dobiva lsia ia: chego nedostayot mne v moyom uglu? otchego tak
nelovko by` lo v nyom ostavat`sia? i s nedoumeniem osmatrival ia svoi
zelyony`e zakopte ly`e steny`, potolo k, zaveshanny`i` pauti n oi`, kotor uiu s
bol`shi m
uspe hom razvodi la Matryona, peresmatrival vsiu svoiu me bel`,
osmatrival kazhdy`i` stul, dumaia, ne tut li beda? (potomu shto kol` u
menia hot` odi n stul stoi t ne tak, kak vchera stoia l, tak ia sam ne svoi`)
smotre l za okno, i vsyo ponaprasnu... nisko l`ko ne by` lo legche! Ia dazhe

Vocabulary

So now you understand, reader, in what sense I am acquainted with all


Petersburg.
I have mentioned already that I had felt worried for three whole days
before I guessed the cause of my uneasiness. And I felt ill at ease in the
street (this one had gone and that one had gone, and what had become of
the other?) and at home I did not feel like myself either. For two evenings
I was puzzling my brains to think what was amiss in my corner; why I felt
so uncomfortable in it. And in perplexity I scanned my grimy green walls,
my ceiling covered with a spiders web, the growth of which Matryona has
so successfully encouraged. I looked over all my furniture, examined every
chair, wondering whether the trouble lay there (for if one chair is not standing in the same position as it stood the day before, I am not myself). I looked

be glad; rejoice; exult; jubilate; be joyful; gloat;


take delight; cheer about; to be excited
distant; backward; bygone; past; preceding
friend; old chap; buddy; bud; old boy; fellow
mournful; plaintive; piteous; rueful
cry; shout; bawl; outcry; squall; scream; call
paint; dye; make up; rouge; stain; colour; dye
paint; dye; flush; blush; tint; colour; stain; ink;
paintwork
malefactor; evildoer; criminal; villain; miscreant;
wrongdoer; baddie; fiend
barbarian; savage; heathen; vandal; Hun
spare; have mercy on