A Hero of Our Time June 11

Finally they have arrived. I was sitting at the window when I heard the clatter of their carriage: my heart started . . . what was that? I couldn’t be in love. Yet I am so inanely composed that you might expect something like this of me.

I dined at their house. The Princess Ligovsky looks at me very affectionately and doesn’t leave the young princess’s side . . . not good! But to make up for it, Vera is jealous of the princess’s effect on me. To have attained such success! What a woman wouldn’t do to upset a rival! I remember one girl that fell in love with me because I loved another. There isn’t anything as paradoxical as a woman’s mind; it’s hard to convince a woman of anything, you have to lead them to convince themselves. The order of proof with which they destroy their caution is very original; to learn their dialect, you have to overturn all the rules of logic you learned at school. For example, this is the usual way:

This man loves me, but I am married: therefore I should not love him.

A woman’s way:

I should not love him for I am married; but he loves me, therefore . . .

Here: an ellipsis, for common sense has already fallen silent. And most of the speaking is done like this: by the tongue, then the eyes, and, following them, the heart, if it is able.

What would happen if a woman’s eyes were to fall on these diaries? “Slander!” she would scream with indignation.

Since poets started writing, and women have been reading them (and for this, profound gratitude is owed), women have been called angels so many times that, with heartfelt simplicity, they actually believe this compliment, forgetting that these are the very same poets who glorified Nero as a demi-god for money . . .

It is inappropriate for me to speak about them with such malice—me, a man who has loved nothing in the world except them—who is always ready to sacrifice them for serenity, ambition, life . . . But it is not in a fit of annoyance and insulted vanity that I am trying to pull from them that magic veil, which only the practiced gaze can penetrate. No, everything that I say about them is only the result of

The cold observations of mind

And the sad remarks of the heart.17

Women should wish that all men knew them as well as I do, because I love them a hundred times more since I am not afraid of them and have comprehended their petty weaknesses.

Incidentally: the other day, Werner compared women with the enchanted forest, about which Tasso wrote in his “Liberation of Jerusalem.”

“As soon as you set out,” he said, “Heaven help you, such horrors fly at you from all sides: duty, pride, decorum, public opinion, mockery, contempt . . . You must not look, and you must just walk straight ahead and, little by little, the monsters will disappear, and a quiet and bright glade will open up before you, in the middle of which a green myrtle will blossom. But on the other hand, if your heart freezes at the first steps and you turn around then it is calamity!”