Pushkin on Painting and Shoemaking

I’m midway through the first year (1873) of Dostoevsky’s proto-blog A Writer’s Diary. (2 volumes, Northwestern University Press, trans. Kenneth Lantz)  Basically it’s a whole bunch of short articles, which were published intermittently, and which deal in various subjects – some short stories, some replies to letters he’s been sent, some rants directed at obscure targets, etc.  I’m not 100% sure where they were published – I think they were opening essays printed in a weekly or monthly literary journal.

I don’t have much to say about it yet, except that it’s enjoyably idiosyncratic, and certainly marks a great departure from The Idiot and Demons.

I wanted to share a poem of Pushkin’s that Dostoevsky includes in his entry entitled “An Impersonator”, a polemical reply to a priest who has written in D to complain of the “unrealistic” nature of a story that’s been published in his journal (not by D, but someone else).  Specifically the priest complains about a description of a deacon given in the story: the history of the deacon’s clothing is apparently inaccurately summarized.  Not his clothing, but the history of that clothing as it relates to the institution of the church.

D quotes this poem in reply:

A painting once a cobbler stopped to view,

And pointed out an error in one shoe;

The artist took the brush and made it right.

“There!” said the cobbler, “Now I think you might

Correct that bosom: it’s a bit too bare;

The face as well requires some repair.”

To these complaints Apelles put an end:

“Judge not above the boots, my cobbler friend!” (p. 227)

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Pushkin on Painting and Shoemaking

  1. Pingback: The Dostoevsky Project Wrap-Up #1: Everything I Wrote – Original Positions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *