Petersburg You Will Never Forget Him

In this chapter we have seen Senator Ableukhov; we have also seen the senator’s idle thoughts in the form of the senator’s house and in the form of the senator’s son, who also carries his own idle thoughts in his head; we have seen, finally, another idle shadow – the stranger.

This shadow arose accidentally in Senator Ableukhov’s consciousness and received there an ephemeral existence of its own; but Apollon Apollonovich’s consciousness is a shadowy consciousness, because he too is the possessor of an ephemeral existence and is a product of the author’s fantasy: a superfluous, idle, cerebral play.

The author, having spread out scenes of illusions, ought to clear them away as soon as possible, breaking off the thread of the narrative if only with this sentence; but … the author will not act thus: he has sufficient right not to.

Cerebral play is only a mask; behind this mask the invasion of the brain by forces unknown to us is accomplished: and even if Apollon Apollonovich is woven from our brains, he will none the less be able to frighten with another, stupendous existence that attacks by night. Apollon Apollonovich is endowed with the attributes of this existence; all his cerebral play is endowed with this existence.

Once his brain has come into play with the mysterious stranger, that stranger exists, really does exist: he will not disappear from the Petersburg prospects while a senator with such thoughts exists, because thought, too, exists.

And so let our stranger be a real live stranger! And let my stranger’s two shadows be real live shadows!

Those dark shadows will follow, they will follow on the stranger’s heels, in the same way as the stranger himself will directly follow the senator; the aged senator will pursue you, he will pursue you, too, reader, in his black carriage: and from this day forth you will never forget him!