Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin: The idealist carp

How it happened that the carp and the rockfish came together is unknown, but one thing’s for sure, that once they met they began debating straight away. They argued once, then again, and later even began to enjoy it, and started arranging dates. They would meet somewhere under a water burdock and start having intelligent conversations. And the dace-parakeet frolicked around them getting wise.

The carp was always provoking.

“I don’t believe it,” he would say, “that war and squabble are normal, under the influence of which everything living on this earth is allegedly destined to evolve. I believe in bloodless prosperity, I believe in harmony and am deeply convinced that happiness is not an idle invention of dreamy minds, but sooner or later will become a reality!”

“Wait for it!” mocked the rockfish.

The rockfish argued abruptly and restlessly. It was a nervous fish, which evidently remembered a great deal of hurt. It had a lot of weight on its heart! It has not come to hatred, but there was no more faith and naivety. Instead of peaceful living it saw conflict everywhere; instead of progress – universal savaging. And it insists that all who have a claim to live have to allow for it all. The rockfish considers the carp to be “blithesome”, but at the same time acknowledged that he’s good to “relive his feelings” with. ...

Translated by Maria Aprelenko, RT

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