Gogol – Dead Souls [unexpected ending]

These rulers have put up their own conditions, their own values, and even their prices have now become generally known. And no ruler, though he be wiser than all legislators and rulers, has it is in his power to correct the evil however much he may curtail the activity of bad officials by putting them under the supervision of other officials. It will all be in vain until every one of us feels that as the time of the general rising up of all the peoples, he armed himself [his enemies?], so he must now rise up against injustice. As a Russian, as one tied to you by bonds of birth and blood, I now appeal to you. I appeal to those of you who have some idea of what is meant by nobility of thought. I invite you to remember the duty which every man, whatever post he may occupy, has to perform. I invite you to examine more closely your duty and the obligations of your earthly service because that is something which all of us are only dimly aware of, and we scarcely …’

[Here the manuscript breaks off]

[The following fragment turned up in an old hotel dresser in Odessa]

I have come to revise my opinion of late. It was a conversation with blind Igor that did it. Now I believe the order of the day should be boundless tyranny and absolute control.

I cannot understand how my spine grew weak. I came to identify with the common wretch. How disgusting, I recoil from those days of delirium. My own skin repels me. The sweet embrace of totalitarianism is just the ticket. “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” What truth those words contain! I wish I had said that.

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