April 29, 2022

A Nervous Breakdown

I made 26 highlights while reading A Nervous Breakdown by Anton Chekhov. The book will give you insights into the most valuable things in life.
  • Please, don't start philosophising! Vodka's for drinking; sturgeon's for eating; women for visiting, and snow for walking over.

  • 'How clumsily they sell themselves!' he thought. 'Can't they understand that vice is tempting only when it's attractive and concealed - when it gets wrapped up as virtue? Modest black dresses, pale faces, sad smiles and even darkness would have more effect than all this crude tinsel.

  • He felt that he wasn't watching prostitutes, but some different, decidedly peculiar, alien and incomprehensible world.

  • Now, now, Grigory. If it disgusts you, then you can make some observations. Do you understand? Make observations!

  • 'One should look at things objectively,' the medical student said pompously.

  • It was agony to think that a respectable, loving person like himself (he looked upon himself as such) hated those women and felt disgusted for them. He felt no pity for the women, musicians, or the servants.

  • 'It's because I'm not trying to understand them,' he thought. 'They're more like animals than human beings, but they are human beings; nonetheless, they have souls. One must understand them first and then judge them.'

  • Once, a friend of Vasilyev's had said that he was a gifted man. People are usually gifted in literature, drama, and fine arts, but his special gift was for human beings. He was keenly, marvellously sensitive to all forms of pain. Just as a good actor reflects others' movements and voices, Vasilyev could reflect another's pain in his soul.

  • His entire attention was riveted on the mental anguish that was tormenting him. It was a dull, abstract, vague kind of pain, rather like a feeling of hopelessness, despair and the most terrible fear. He could point it out - it was in his chest, below the heart. But he knew of nothing with which he could compare it. In his life, he had suffered severe toothache, pleurisy and neuralgia. Still, all that was nothing compared with this spiritual pain.

  • I'm praised for writing a dissertation that will be ignored and forgotten. But because I can't discuss fallen women as casually as I might talk about these chairs, I'm given medical treatment, called insane and pitied!

  • Before you read my objections, you must know what it is I'm objecting to.

  • The secret of my success isn't that it's a big garden, with lots of gardeners, but because I love the work. Perhaps I love it better than myself.

  • He would never have known that simple, disinterested love that is felt only for those who are very close, for blood relations.

  • I'm trying to say that you've sacrificed your health for an idea, and it won't be long before you sacrifice your very life to it.

  • I repeat: if you want to be healthy and normal, go and join the herd.

  • Fame doesn't tempt you. What is flattering, or amusing, or edifying in having your name carved on a tombstone only for it to be rubbed off by time, gilding as well? Fortunately, there are too many of you for humanity's weak memory to retain your names.

  • The higher man's intellectual and moral development, the freer he is and the more pleasure life gives him.

  • In the long run, doctors and relatives will turn humanity into a lot of morons.

  • Mediocrity will pass for genius, and civilisation will perish.

  • What I find most disgusting is their being so well-fed, with that optimism that comes from a full belly.

  • He knew from experience that the best cure for shattered nerves is work. One should sit down at a table and force oneself at all costs to concentrate on one idea, no matter what.

  • Kovrin realised clearly now that he was a nobody and eagerly accepted the fact since, in his opinion, every man should be content with what he is.

  • It was all well having a rich husband, but she still didn't have money.

  • 'Every man should have responsibilities,' he would say, clenching his knife in his fist like a sword.

  • She had married him for his money, and now she was worse off than before.

  • She had already guessed that the company of an elderly husband didn't lower her in anyone's eyes. On the contrary, it stamped her with that tantalising mysteriousness adored by men.