Maxim Gorky: The fatal consequences of ignoring military protocol

Antiwar literary selections


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Russian writers on war

Maxim Gorky: Selections on war


Maxim Gorky
From The Specter (1938)
Translated by Alexander Bakshy


“Lieutenant Valery Nikolayevich Petrov,” he announced, taking a step toward Samghin. Clim Ivanovich, too, introduced himself, and offered his hand.

The officer drew back. He said:

“I cannot shake your hand.

“Why not?”

“You sit. I stand. Is it permissible that an officer should stand before a civilian, with hand outstretched?”

“I am near-sighted, and half asleep,” explained Samghin peaceably, looking at the thick-lipped, clean-shaven face, the little Mongolian eyes, and the broad nose.

“You should have explained that to me,” accused the officer, hiding his hand behind him.

“That’s exactly what I’m doing.”

“It’s too late. You have given me the right to believe that your behavior is the usual behavior of civilian liberals, Socialists, and all those who hide…

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