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A superfluous man

May 7, 2012

This dialogue is from a novel with the names and “he saids” taken out:

“And what… what shall be said of one whose heart, whose education, and the wants of society, have called in vain to some noble purpose; who has floated on, a dreamy, neutral spectator of the struggles, agonies, and wrongs of man, when he should have been a worker?”

“I should say that he ought to repent, and begin now.”

“Always practical and to the point! You never leave me any time for general reflections, Cousin; you always bring me short up against the actual present; you have a kind of eternal now, always in your mind.”

The first speech is the self-definition of a superfluous man, and the whole dialogue could be a repentant nobleman of the 1840s talking to an energetic nihilist raznochinets of the 1860s. Source below the fold.

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