Satan's Diary - by Leonid Andreyev - PDF Novel

Satan's Diary 

Satan's Diary

Excerpt from the introduction 
Satan's Diary is Leonid Andreyev's last work was completed by the great Russian a few days before lie died in Finland, in September 1919. But a few years ago the most popular and successful of Russian writer, Andreyev died almost penniless, a sad, tragic figure, disillusioned, broken-hearted over the tragedy of Russia. 

A year ago Leonid Andreyev wrote me that he was eager to come to America, to study this country and familiarize Americans with the fate of his unfortunate countrymen. I arranged for his visit to this country and informed him of this by cable. But on the very day, I sent my cable the sad news came from Finland announcing that Leonid Andreyev died of heart failure. In " Satan's Diary" Andreyev summed up his boundless disillusionment in an absorbing satire on human life. 

Fearlessly and mercilessly he hurled the falsehoods and hypocrisies into the face of life. He portrayed Satan coming to this earth to amuse himself and play. Having assumed the form of an American multi-millionaire, Satan set out on a tour through Europe in quest of amusement and adventure. Before he passed various forms of spurious virtues, hypocrisies, 

Preface the ruthless cruelty of man and the often deceptive innocence of women. Within a short time, Satan finds himself outwitted, deceived, relieved of his millions, mocked, humiliated, beaten by a man in his own devilish devices. 

The story of Andreyev's beginning as a writer is best told in his autobiography which he gave me in 1908. "I was bora," he said, "in Oryol, in 1871, and studied there at the gymnasium. I studied poorly; while in the seventh class I was for a whole year known as the worst student, and my mark for conduct was never higher than 4, sometimes 

The most pleasant time I spent at school, which I recall to this day with pleasure, was recess time between lessons, and also the rare occasions when I was sent out from the classroom. . . . The sunbeams, the free sunbeams, which penetrated some cleft and which played with the dust in the hallway all this was so mysterious, so interesting, so full of peculiar, hidden meaning.

 "When I studied at the gymnasium my father, an engineer, died. As a university student, I was in dire need. During my first course in St. Peters- burg I even starved not so much out of real necessity as because of my youth, inexperience, and my inability to utilize the unnecessary parts of my costume. I am to this day ashamed to think that I went two days without food at a time when I had two or three pairs of trousers and two over- coats which I could have sold
 "It was then that I wrote my first story about a starving student. I cried when I wrote it, and the editor, who returned my manuscript, laughed. 

That story of mine remained unpublished In 1894, in January, I made an unsuccessful at- tempt to kill myself by shooting.

 As a result of this unsuccessful attempt, I was forced by the authorities into religious penitence, and I contracted heart trouble, though not of a serious nature, yet very annoying. During this time I made one or two unsuccessful attempts at writing; I devoted myself with greater pleasure and success to paint- ing, which I loved from childhood on. I made portraits to order at 3 and 5 rubles apiece. "In 1897 

I received my diploma and became an assistant attorney, but I was at the very outset sidetracked. I was offered a position on The Courier, for which I was to report court proceedings. I did not succeed in getting any practice as a lawyer. I had only one case and lost it at every point. ' ' In 1898 I wrote my first story for the Easter number and since that time I have devoted my- self exclusively to literature. Maxim Gorky helped me considerably in my literary work with his always practical advice and suggestions. " Andreyev's first steps in literature, his first short stories, attracted but little attention at the time of their appearance. 

It was only when Countess Tolstoy, the wife of Leo Tolstoy, in a letter to the Novoye Vremya, came out in "defense of artistic purity and moral power in contemporary vii Preface literature," declaring that Bussian society, instead of buying, reading, and making famous the works of the Andreyev's, should "rise against such filth with indignation, " that almost everybody who knew how to read in Russia turned to the little volume of the young writer. In her attack upon Andreyev, Countess Tolstoy said as follows: 

"The poor new writers, like Andreyev, succeeded only in concentrating their attention on the filthy point of human degradation and uttered a cry to the undeveloped, half-intelligent reading public, inviting them to see and to examine the decomposed corpse of human degradation and to close their eyes to God's wonderful, vast world, with the beauties of nature, with the majesty of art, with the lofty yearnings of the human soul, with the religious and moral struggles and the great ideals of goodness even with the downfall, misfortunes, and weaknesses of such people as Dostoyevsky depicted. ... In describing all these every true artist should illumine clearly be- fore humanity not the side of filth and vice but should struggle against them by illumining the highest ideals of good, truth, and the triumph over evil, weakness, and the vices of mankind. 

I should like to cry out loudly to the whole world in order to help those unfortunate people whose wings, given to each of them for high flights toward the understanding of the spiritual light, beauty, kindness, and God, are clipped by these Andreyev's."

Leonid Nikolaievich Andreyev was a Russian playwright, novelist, and short-story writer, who is considered to be a father of Expressionism in Russian literature. He is one of the most talented and prolific representatives of the Silver Age period

 Leonid Andreyev 
Translated by Herman Bernstein
Publication date:1920
Publisher New York Boni and Liveright

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