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The telegraph plot

August 15, 2012

There is no shortage of informers in Laughter and Sorrow, and here’s one more. Lokotkov is the victim for the second time:

“[…]Sergei the sexton even submitted a denunciation of his lordship [на них for the singular Lokotkov] to the local authorities on the matter.”

“What does the denunciation say?”

“It’s about how strange his lordship is. He wrote that one night Mr. Lokotkov flew to Karakozov [who had tried to assassinate the tsar] by telegraph.”


“The peasants were ready to kill him for it, but the government paid no attention to it; Sergei the sexton was even sent to saw wood at the monastery himself, and they even said this was a bit of leniency since he was stupid and didn’t know what he was doing […]”

The dialogue is between the narrator, Orest Vatazhkov, and his steward. Vatazhkov goes on to express surprise that the sexton believed one could fly by telegraph, which the steward attributes to churchmen being upset about a new law that will reduce their numbers. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a would-be informer whose story is so incredible it simply isn’t believed.

See Leskov’s Laughter and Sorrow (Смех и горе, 1871), chapter 49.

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