Translated by Michael Frayn.
Methuen London Ltd. Great Britain.
TUSENBACH. It’s not just two or three hundred years- a million years from now, even, life will still be just the same as it’s always been. It doesn’t change; it remains constant; it follows its own laws- laws which have nothing to do with you, or which at any rate you’ll never discover. The birds that fly south in the autumn- the cranes, for example- on and on they fly, and whatever lofty or petty thoughts they have fermenting inside their heads, on they will continue to fly. On and forever on, whatever philosophers they may have among them. Let them philosophise away to their heart’s content, just so long as they go on flying.
MASHA. All the same, there is some point?
TUSENBACH. Some point... Look, it’s snowing. Where’s the point in that?
MASHA. It seems to me that a man must have faith, or be seeking it, otherwise his life is empty, quite empty... To live and not know why the cranes fly, why children are born, why the stars are in the sky... Either you know why you’re alive or it’s all nonsense, it’s all dust in the wind.
- Act Two, pg 223-226.
CHEBUTYKIN (morosely). Well, to hell with them. Wednesday last I treated a woman in town and she died, and it was my fault she died. Yes... Twenty-five years back I knew a thing or two, but now I can’t remember anything. Not a thing. Maybe I’m not even human- I just put on this appearance of having arms and legs and head. Maybe I don’t exist at all- I just think I’m walking and eating and sleeping. (Weeps.) Oh, if only I could be non-existent! (Stops weeping. Morosely.) Well, I don’t know... Day before yesterday there was this conversation in the Mess. ‘Shakespeare!’ they go. ‘Voltaire...’ I haven’t read a line of any of them- I just put a look on my face as if I had. And the others did the same. But the meanness of it! The shabbiness! And that woman came into my mind, the one I finished off on Wednesday... then everything else came back as well, and I felt as if my whole soul was warped and soiled and ugly... And off I went and started drinking...
- Act Three, pg 244.
TUSENBACH. Ridiculous how such silly little things can sometimes take on a sudden importance in your life, for no reason you can put your finger on. You laugh at them just as you always did, you think how absurd they are, and yet you go along with it all and feel you haven’t the strength to stop.
- Act Four, pg 270.