Almost two months had passed. The hot summer was half over, but Sergey Ivanovitch was only just preparing to leave Moscow.
Sergey Ivanovitch’s life had not been uneventful during this time. A year ago he had finished his book, the fruit of six years’ labor, “Sketch of a Survey of the Principles and Forms of Government in Europe and Russia.” Several sections of this book and its introduction had appeared in periodical publications, and other parts had been read by Sergey Ivanovitch to persons of his circle, so that the leading ideas of the work could not be completely novel to the public. But still Sergey Ivanovitch had expected that on its appearance his book would be sure to make a serious impression on society, and if it did not cause a revolution in social science it would, at any rate, make a great stir in the scientific world.
After the most conscientious revision the book had last year been published, and had been distributed among the booksellers.
Though he asked no one about it, reluctantly and with feigned indifference answered his friends’ inquiries as to how the book was going, and did not even inquire of the booksellers how the book was selling, Sergey Ivanovitch was all on the alert, with strained attention, watching for the first impression his book would make in the world and in literature.
But a week passed, a second, a third, and in society no impression whatever could be detected. His friends who were specialists and savants, occasionally—unmistakably from politeness—alluded to it. The rest of his acquaintances, not interested in a book on a learned subject, did not talk of it at all. And society generally—just now especially absorbed in other things—was absolutely indifferent. In the press, too, for a whole month there was not a word about his book.
Sergey Ivanovitch had calculated to a nicety the time necessary for writing a review, but a month passed, and a second, and still there was silence.
Only in the Northern Beetle, in a comic article on the singer Drabanti, who had lost his voice, there was a contemptuous allusion to Koznishev’s book, suggesting that the book had been long ago seen through by everyone, and was a subject of general ridicule.
At last in the third month a critical article appeared in a serious review. Sergey Ivanovitch knew the author of the article. He had met him once at Golubtsov’s.
The author of the article was a young man, an invalid, very bold as a writer, but extremely deficient in breeding and shy in personal relations.
In spite of his absolute contempt for the author, it was with complete respect that Sergey Ivanovitch set about reading the article. The article was awful.