I suppose I am dreadfully guilty, but my thoughts are muddled, my soul is in the grip of a kind of apathy, and I am no longer able to understand myself. I don’t understand myself or other people. I should like to tell you everything from the beginning, but it’s a long story, and such a complicated one that if I talked till morning I couldn’t finish it. Anna is a remarkable, an extraordinary woman… She changed her religion for my sake, left her father and mother, gave up wealth, and if I had asked her for a hundred more sacrifices, she would have made them without batting an eye. But, you see, I am in no way remarkable, and I have sacrificed nothing. However, that’s a long story. The whole point is that to put it briefly, I was passionately in love with her when I married, and swore that I would love her forever, but… Five years have passed, she still loves me, but I… Here you tell me that she is going to die soon, and I feel neither love nor pity, but only a sort of emptiness and lassitude. To anyone looking at me this must seem appalling; I myself don’t understand what is happening within my soul.
Ivanov, Nikolai Ivanov