Leonid Andreyev: My memoirs

Those were indeed terrible days and nights when, crushed by the walls, not getting an answer to any of my questions, I paced my cell endlessly and hurled, one after another into the dark abyss, all the great valuables with which life has endowed us: friendship, love, reason and justice.
In some justification I can mention the fact that, during those first and most painful years, a series of events occurred which reflected themselves rather painfully upon my psychic nature. Thus, I learned with the deepest indignation that the girl, whose name I shall not mention and who was to become my wife, married another man. She was one of the few who believed in my innocence. At the last parting, she swore to remain faithful to me till death and that she would rather die than betray her love for me. Yet it was only one year after that she married a man I knew: a man who possessed certain good qualities, but who was far from sensible.
I did not want to understand that such a marriage was natural on the part of a young, healthy, and beautiful girl, who was, in addition, gifted with the special tendency for motherhood. I was sentenced to a lengthy death and wished, for an unknown reason, that she too would share my fate. At the present time she is a happy and respected mother, and this proves better than anything else how wise and entirely in accordance with the demands of nature and life was her marriage, which aggravated me so painfully, at that time.
I must confess, however, that at that time I was far from being calm. Her exceedingly amiable and kind letter in which she notified me of her marriage, expressing profound regret that changed circumstances and a sudden awakened love compelled her to break her promise to me - that amiable, truthful letter, scented with perfume, bearing the traces of her tender fingers, seemed to me a message from the devil himself.
The fiery letters burned my beaten brain, and in wild ecstasy I shook the doors of my cell and called out frantically “Come! Let me just look into your lying eyes! Let me hear your lying voice! Let me just touch with my fingers your tender throat and pour my last bitter laugh into your death cry!”
From this quotation my indulgent reader will see how right were the judges who convicted me of murder: they had truly seen in me a murderer.

Translated by Maria Aprelenko, RT


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