IVAN SPLITS IN TWO

“…The poet’s attempts to write a statement concerning the terrible consultant had gone nowhere. As soon as he got the pencil stub and paper from the fat attendant, whose name was Praskovya Fyodorovna, he rubbed his hands in a business-like way and hastily settled himself at the little table. The beginning came out quite glibly. To the police. From Massolit member Ivan Nikolaevich Homeless. A statement. Yesterday evening I came to the Patriarch’s Ponds with the deceased M. A. Berlioz…’ And right there the poet got confused, mainly owing to the word ‘deceased’. Some nonsensicality emerged at once: what’s this – came with the deceased? The deceased don’t go anywhere! Really, for all he knew, they might take him for a madman! Having reflected thus, Ivan Nikolaevich began to correct what he had written. What came out this time was: ‘… with M. A. Berlioz, subsequently deceased …’ This did not satisfy the author either. He had to have recourse to a third redaction, which proved still worse than the first two: ‘Berlioz, who fell under the tram-car…’ – and that namesake composer, unknown to anyone, was also dangling here, so he had to put in: ‘not the composer…’ After suffering over these two Berliozes, Ivan crossed it all out and decided to begin right off with something very strong, in order to attract the reader’s attention at once, so he wrote that a cat had got on a tram-car, and then went back to the episode with the severed head. The head and the consultant’s prediction led him to the thought of Pontius Pilate, and for greater conviction Ivan decided to tell the whole story of the procurator in full, from the moment he walked out in his white cloak with blood-red lining to the colonnade of Herod’s palace. Ivan worked assiduously, crossing out what he had written, putting in new words, and even attempted to draw Pontius Pilate and then a cat standing on its hind legs. But the drawings did not help, and the further it went, the more confusing and incomprehensible the poet’s statement became…”

Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita (Chapter 11).

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