Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Salvage

The Coast of Utopia: Part III

by Tom Stoppard

“A Dickensian portrait of the fractious émigré community.” —Michael Billington, Guardian (UK)

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 144
  • Publication Date August 20, 2003
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4006-7
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $13.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Publication Date December 01, 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-9531-9
  • US List Price $13.00

About The Book

Comprising of three sequential plays, The Coast of Utopia chronicles the story of romantics and revolutionaries caught up in a struggle for political freedom in an age of emperors.

The Coast of Utopia is Tom Stoppard’s long-awaited and monumental trilogy that explores a group of friends who come of age under the Tsarist autocracy of Nicholas I, and for whom the term “intelligentsia” was coined. Among them are the anarchist Michael Bakunin, who was to challenge Marx for the soul of the masses; Ivan Turgenev, author of some of the most enduring works in Russian literature; the brilliant, erratic young critic Vissarion Belinsky; and Alexander Herzen, a nobleman’s son and the first self-proclaimed socialist in Russia, who becomes the main focus of this drama of politics, love, loss and betrayal. In The Coast of Utopia, Stoppard presents an inspired examination of the struggle between romantic anarchy, utopian idealism and practical reformation in what The New York Times calls, “The biggest theatrical event of the year. . . . Brilliant, sprawling. . . . A rich pageant.”

The year is 1852 and Alexander Herzen, who left Russia five years earlier, has arrived in London in retreat from a series of public and private calamities. Revolution has hit the rocks—émigré circles in London (including Karl Marx) are buzzing with plots and intrigues, and Herzen’s money, as well as his sardonic wit, soon have an outlet among them. With the accession of Alexander II—the reforming Tsar—Herzen’s revived spirits are boosted by the arrival of his childhood friend Nicholas Ogarev with his wife Natalie. Their journal “The Bell,” smuggles into Russia, enters its heyday in the struggle for the emancipation of the serfs. Will it be reform from above or revolution from below.

At home the “new men” who once looked on Herzen as their inspiration are in a hurry, and in London he is once more at odds with Michael Bakunin, who has escaped from exile in Siberia. Meanwhile Natalie Ogarev finds in him her romantic ideal, and Herzen’s public and private travails are far from over.

Praise

“A Dickensian portrait of the fractious émigré community.” —Michael Billington, Guardian (UK)

Praise for The Coast of Utopia:

“Political utopianism, with all its blood-soaked passion, is back. . . . [in] the biggest theatrical event of the year. . . . Brilliant, sprawling. . . . A rich pageant. . . . [Stoppard’s characters] are besotted with idealism, they seethe at oppression, they are frustrated with life and with love. [His] trilogy is a constant reminder that the seduction of revolutionary thought is only partly in the theories; in its birthing hours it is full of drama, excitement and, yes, fun. Throughout it all Mr. Stoppard’s trademark wit is so much in evidence. . . . Stoppard’s exploration of the life of the mind in mid-19th-century Russia is a timely reminder of why . . . America’s way has always been better than the utopian alternatives.” —Adam Cohen, The New York Times

“Both a mesmerizing history lesson and a theatergoing discovery, leaving you dazzled, dazed and off to the theater bookstore to delve into this period of history that Stoppard has rendered so moving as well as enlightening. . . . A writer of brilliance and imagination who dares to navigate the deep waters of history, philosophy and ideas, Stoppard is distinguished now more than ever as he travels along the Coast of Utopia with such a beautiful retinue.” —Carol Rocamora, The Nation

“Alexander Herzen, Marx’s rival and Tolstoy’s nonfiction counterpart, enjoys a well-deserved return to center stage in Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia . . . the shroud that has fallen over Herzen was not so much lifted as shaken out by Sir Tom Stoppard.” —Christopher Hitchens, Atlantic Monthly

“Stoppard’s brilliant, complex and utterly admirable trilogy . . . is a witty, highly intelligent and humorous masterpiece into which the spectator dives as if it were a deep adventurous sea, churning up the stormy waters of 19th century history and its philosophical thinkers, political dreamers, revolutionaries and utopians.” —Verena Winter, Theater Record (UK)

“[A] dazzling, gargantuan epic—not unlike some great, sprawling Russian novel for the stage. . . . Stoppard’s language sparkles with wit—and frequently moving poetry.” —Oliver Jones, What’s On (UK)

“Refreshingly ambitious in its sweep. . . . It’s packed with reflections on idealism and political change that still have clout today.” —Benedict Nightingale, The Times (UK)

“Intelligent, lucid, eloquent and enlivened by the author’s wit and eye for the absurd. . . . The Coast of Utopia gives voice to a philosophy of moderation dear to Stoppard’s heart: respect for the individual over the collective and hatred for theories of history that sanctify the bloody sacrifice of the present as a necessary step towards some blissful illusory destination.” —Paul Taylor, Independent (UK)

“A delight in caprice, chance and the unrepeatable moment also makes this the work of a poet.” —Susannah Clapp, Observer (UK)

“A huge epic, bristling with ideas about art, love, politics, reality, and, as the overall title suggests, utopias. . . . At his best Stoppard brings long-dead people back to witty life, as well as making their philosophies both comprehensible and entertaining as he pleads against the violent, dogmatic imposition of change.” —Jane Edwards, Time Out (UK)

“Rarely, if ever, has a work so complex achieved such clarity.” —John Nathan, Jewish Chronicle (UK)

“Contains some of Stoppard’s best writing. Nobody in the theatre today can match him for a combination of sinuous argument, intellectual élan, and sheer coruscating wit. The dialogue has a leaping, athletic energy: excitement of the mind and the heart.” —John Peter, Sunday Times (UK)

“Beautiful. . . . I was happy just luxuriating in the sheer texture of the scenes Stoppard sets before us. Stoppard adores those moments of conjunction when history is like a VIP lounge. . . . The meanings of the play cohere as you watch, not as narrative but as poetry, and keep growing in recollection. . . . His sense of history has [never] been finer—fuller—than here.” —Alastair Macaulay, Financial Times (UK)

Excerpt

Act One: February 1853

London. The Herzen house in Hampstead. Alexander Herzen, aged forty, is asleep in an armchair, attended by dreams. The room is (at this first appearance) without boundaries. The space will remain loosely defined, serving for different rooms and changes of address, and sometimes, as now, for exteriors.

There is a wind blowing. Birdsong.

Sasha Herzen, aged thirteen, runs backwards across the stage pulling on a kite string. He is accompanied by a young nurse (nanny), Maria Fomm, who is in charge of Tata Herzen, aged eight, and of a stroller or simple pram in which a two-year-old (Olga) is asleep. Speech is without accent except when inside quotation marks. Herzen speaks from his chair.

MARIA
Bring it down now, it’s time to go home!

SASHA
No, isn’t, it isn’t!

MARIA (as Sasha leaves)
I’ll tell your father!

HERZEN
Can you see, Tata? . . . the Cathedral of St Paul . . . the Parliament House . . .

TATA
I know why it’s called the Parliament House, Papa . . . because you can see it from Parliament Hill.

Sasha returns, loudly aggrieved, winding his broken kite string.

SASHA
It broke!

MARIA
Don’t wake Olga . . .

TATA
Look!—there it goes! It’s much higher than all the other kites, Sasha!

SASHA
Well, of course it is—the string broke!

MARIA (looking in the pram)
She’s dropped a glove, we’ll have to go back and look . . .

HERZEN
We’ll make another one, Sasha . . .

SASHA
At once, please, Papa, will you?

MARIA
Oh, look, it’s in my pocket!

HERZEN
If we stay here, you know, we’ll have to learn to speak Eyseyki language.

SASHA
“I say, I say!”

HERZEN (correcting, drawls)
“I say, I say!”

Sasha follows Maria, Tata and Olga out.

SASHA (leaving, mimicking)
“I say, I say!”

In Herzen’s dream, a number of people are taking the air on Parliament Hill. They are émigrés, political refugees, from Germany, France, Poland, Italy and Hungary.

The Germans: Gottfried Kinkel (thirty-seven), a tall, greying poet with a Jove-like head attached incongruously to a fastidious professor. He is his greatest admirer, but his handsome wife, Joanna (thirty-two), runs him close. Malwida von Meysenbug (thirty-six), their friend, is plain, intelligent, unmarried, romantic. Arnold Ruge (fifty) is a failed radical journalist, embittered and self-important. Karl Marx is thirty-four. His companion, the exception, is an Englishman, Ernest Jones (thirty-three), a prominent Chartist of the middle classes.

The French: Alexandre Ledru-Rollin (forty-five), a large man, the leader of the “official” (bourgeois) Republicans-in-exile; he is accompanied by an Aide. Louis Blanc (forty-one) is a small man, the leader of the socialist faction of the Republicans-in-exile.

The Pole is Count Stanislaw Worcell (fifty-three), a radicalised aristocrat, a gentle soul suffering from asthma.

The Italian is the famous revolutionary Guiseppe Mazzini (forty-seven).

The Hungarian is Lajos Kossuth (fifty-one), the hero of his country’s revolution, a handsome leader-in-exile. His Aide wears semi-military uniform.

The Kinkels and Malwida are the first to appear.

JOANNA
Dearest heart, are we wearing our special waistcoat? I’m simply terrified you’ll catch a chill!

KINKEL
Light of my life, the chills reel back in confusion from our special waistcoat.

JOANNA
I’ve given Gottfried a life preserver, you know.

MALWIDA
Is it flannel?

JOANNA
There are dangers lying in wait for the unwary—including some of the female variety!

MALWIDA
I’m a firm believer in flannel, myself.

JOANNA
Don’t scream when he pulls it out. Let Malwida have a look, my dearest.

Meanwhile, Kossuth and Ledru-Rollin have entered separately with their Aides. Each pair consults for a moment.

Joanna helps Kinkel to unbutton his coat. Malwida gives a little squeal.

MALWIDA
Oh! Can I hold it?

The “life preserver,” a revolver, is flourished by Kinkel. The two Aides, Hungarian and French, approach each other, while Kossuth and Ledru-Rollin occupy themselves with the view.

HUNGARIAN AIDE (clicking his heels)
Captain Peks, aide-de-camp to Monsieur le Gouverneur Kossuth.

FRENCH AIDE (bowing)
Enchanted. Alphonse de Ville, chief secretary to Monsieur Ledru-Rollin.

HUNGARIAN AIDE
It is a great sorrow that two such heroes of the revolutions in Europe have never met.

FRENCH AIDE
A tragedy.

HUNGARIAN AIDE
Inexplicable. Were Monsieur Ledru-Rollin to find himself in Notting Hill on a Wednesday afternoon between three and six o’clock, I assure you Monsieur le Gouverneur would extend the hand of cordiality.

FRENCH AIDE
I thank you. But it is customary for calls to be made by the newer arrivals on those already in residence. Perhaps you know Parsons Green.

HUNGARIAN AIDE
It is true that Ledru-Rollin was here first, but Kossuth, in the glorious period of the revolution, was ruler of Hungary.

FRENCH AIDE (agrees)
Hungary. But Ledru-Rollin was a minister in the government of the Second French Republic.

HUNGARIAN AIDE (agrees)
A minister.

FRENCH AIDE (shrugs)
So be it.

HUNGARIAN AIDE (shrugs)
Alas.

Mazzini, entering, greets Kossuth warmly, just as Jones, accompanying Marx, enters and sees Ledru-Rollin.

MAZZINI
Kossuth!—Carissimo!

JONES
I say!—Ledru-Rollin! And Governor Kossuth! I say!

MAZZINI (noticing Ledru-Rollin)
Ministre! Bravissimo! (introducing) You know Kossuth . . .

JONES (simultaneously to Kossuth)
You know Ledru-Rollin?

Kossuth and Ledru-Rollin recognise each other with incredulity and rapture.

LEDRU-ROLLIN
Allow me to embrace you! France greets the hero of that great nation, Hungary!

KOSSUTH
Your noble character, your courage, your sacrifice will be remembered wherever the torch of freedom burns!

LEDRU-ROLLIN
The name of Kossuth will be immortal in the annals of the revolution in Europe!

KINKEL (to Joanna and Malwida)
Don’t look—it’s that blackguard Marx.

MARX (to Jones)
So you’re still keeping in with that great flatulent bag of festering tripe Ledru-Rollin?

JONES
Oh, I say!

MARX
Kossuth doesn’t know when history’s scraped him off its shoe. As for Mazzini, the boil on my arse is more use than an Italian nationalist.

KINKEL (to Joanna and Malwida)
Marx is always getting thrown out of pubs by the English workingman, what a charlatan!

All insults are spoken so as not to be audible to the insulted. Marx and Kinkel catch each other’s eye.

MARX
Kinkel! . . . Unctuous jackass.

Ruge enters.

MARX (cont.)
And here’s another impudent windbag. Whenever I see Ruge, I think of those signs at certain street corners in Paris—”It is permitted to pass water here.”

RUGE (greeting Ledru-Rollin and Kossuth)
Monsieur le Ministre! Monsieur le Gouverneur! Who cracked first? I see my countryman over there, that swindler Marx. Oh, and Gottfried Kinkel—well, he’s just a long streak of piss. So, when’s the revolution?

LEDRU-ROLLIN
But for a miserable hundred thousand francs, I could give the signal for revolution in Paris tomorrow, or Tuesday at the latest.

MAZZINI
Paris—the whole of mankind, for that matter—will be liberated from Milano! My agents are in place.

Worcell and Blanc enter.

WORCELL (coughing asthmatically)
Poland greets Hungary, Italy and France!

BLANC
Socialist France greets Hungary, Italy and the bourgeois Republic-in-exile! . . . and Germany, Germany and Germany, “Divided we fall, united we’re fucked!”

Ruge and Kinkel cut each other. Ruge cuts Marx.

MARX (to Jones)
Watch out for that preening glove-puppet Louis Blanc—a deviationist to his stinking arsehole.

WORCELL (shaking hands)
Herzen! Poland forgives Russia!

JONES
I say! It’s Herzen!

MARX
Russia is irrelevant. I propose Herzen is expelled from the Committee.

JONES
Oh, I say—that’s simply not on.

MARX
I resign!

Marx leaves. The émigrés watch him go, overtly catcalling now.

RUGE
Abortionist!

KINKEL
Parasite! Sponger!

LEDRU-ROLLIN
Onanist!

MAZZINI
Economist! (generally) Arrivederci! Today Milano—tomorrow the world! (Mazzini leaves.)

BLANC
Fantasist!

WORCELL (to Jones)
Can we get on? I have to give a math lesson in Muswell Hill at five o’clock.

JONES
Gentlemen! Order, order! The European Committee of Co-operation and Joint Action by the International Brotherhood of Democrats in Exile is now in session!

Unadvertised, a localised drama involving the Kinkels and Malwida reaches an operatic climax, ignored by everyone else, with Joanna waving the pistol at Kinkel and Malwida.

JOANNA
Do up your buttons! I was blind, blind!

Joanna fires the pistol. The noise, like a slammed door, startles Herzen awake.

The “Herzen interior” from now on incorporates, permanently or otherwise and according to needs, tables, chairs, armchairs, desk, couch and so on, as well as notional doors and enclosed spaces.

Malwida has just entered the room where Herzen has been asleep.

The remaining members of the dream are “next door” chatting socially, holding glasses of wine, smoking, eating snacks replenished by a Parlourmaid.

HERZEN (waking)
Oh! . . . Are you all right?

There is a burst of jovial laughter from the émigrés responding to some remark.

MALWIDA
I’m so sorry, the wind caught the door . . . I did knock.

HERZEN (getting up) No—no—forgive me! I felt tired for a moment . . . and the next thing I knew . . .

MALWIDA
Were you having a dream?

HERZEN
My God, I hope so.

MALWIDA
I received your letter.

HERZEN
That’s it. My letter.

MALWIDA
You want a tutor for your children.

HERZEN
Only for Tata. Sasha has his own tutors, and Olga is not old enough yet. The girls have been living with friends in Paris since my wife died, it’s time I brought us all together again. Tata will need mathematics, history, geography . . . you have some English?

MALWIDA
I could teach a beginner. Would I be teaching in French or in German?

HERZEN
Undoubtedly!—We speak Russian en famille.

MALWIDA
I’d like to learn Russian. I’ve read From the Other Shore, but only in German, of course.

HERZEN
You know my book?

MALWIDA
At home I was close to someone who took part in the revolution. He died last year. He died young.

HERZEN
We are both bereaved.

MALWIDA
Somebody’s lost a glove. A child . . .

Malwida picks up a small-sized glove from the floor by Herzen’s chair. She gives him the glove. Herzen puts it in his pocket.

HERZEN
Yes, it’s mine. Well—how much will I pay you?

MALWIDA
I would like to suggest two shillings an hour.

HERZEN
I would like to suggest three. Should we shake hands on it like Englishmen?

They shake hands. He starts escorting her to the other room.

HERZEN (cont.)
At home we used to call Englishmen “Eyseyki”—”I say-ki!”

Malwida joins the Kinkels. Joanna is buttoning Kinkel’s coat. Kossuth is making a round of farewell handshakes. The party is breaking up, assisted as appropriately by the Parlourmaid helping with coats and hats.

JOANNA
It is foggy out? My foolish cavalier is determined to provoke the Grim Reaper into an indiscretion!

HUNGARIAN AIDE (to Herzen)
Monsieur le Gouverneur begs to take his leave, that your guests may feel free to depart.

RUGE (in “English”) “Mr Jones—Marx tells me you Chartists will be the government in two years—and private property abolished in three!”

JONES
Oh, I say—I think that’s premature.

LEDRU-ROLLIN
The revolution can only radiate from France! France means Europe! (complaining to his Aide) Look at that!—Kossuth is leaving before me!

KOSSUTH (to Worcell)
That admirable man Ledru-Rollin has his head in the clouds, I’m afraid.

WORCELL
You heard? Mazzini is alive but in hiding.

KOSSUTH
A brave patriot but, alas, a romantic.

Kossuth and Worcell shake hands. Kossuth shakes hands with Herzen and leaves.

KINKEL (saying goodbye to Jones)
“You show the steep and thorny way to heaven while we the Primrose Hill of dalliance tread.”

JONES (baffled)
Indeed.

LEDRU-ROLLIN (to his Aide)
And now those Germans! You’d better fetch a cab or I’ll be last.

The Aide leaves on his errand.

KINKEL (to Herzen)
Malwida showed me your letter, and I must tell you I was horrified. Letters in England must be folded in three—never in quarters! Especially when writing to a lady!

HERZEN (to Malwida)
The children will be arriving with their nurse. She’s a German girl, so you’ll get on.

JOANNA
We must go, we must go! Gottfried is losing his voice, and where will Germany be then?

Kinkel, Joanna and Malwida leave.

JONES (to Herzen)
I promised Emily an early start on the compost.

HERZEN (politely baffled)
“Safe journey!”

Jones leaves. Herzen returns to the remaining guests—Blanc, Ledru-Rollin, Ruge and Worcell, who has fallen asleep.

LEDRU-ROLLIN (to Blanc)
But, you know, when Kossuth’s triumphal progress reached Marseilles, he talked socialism to the workers, and when he got to England, he praised parliamentary democracy!

HERZEN
Well, he would have been a fool to do it the other way round.

LEDRU-ROLLIN
But that’s hypocrisy.

HERZEN
What is? To allow that here is not there? Cutting people out like pastry with your one true pastry-cutter makes you no better than the tyranny you’re fighting.

BLANC
What’s this?

HERZEN
It’s all right . . . I had a dream about exiles. What a snake pit, adders’ tongues weren’t in it. But they spoke Russian! Extraordinary. You don’t know Russian, do you?

BLANC (put out)
Why? Was I . . . ?

HERZEN
It was a dream. You wouldn’t like it if you’d been left out. And it’s true, anyway. The only thing that unites the émigrés is criticising the English. Blanc hates the English because they don’t speak French.

BLANC
Moi?

HERZEN
You become furious when they don’t know the way to Sharring Crow and Backay Strit.

LEDRU-ROLLIN
Not that the English aren’t in some respects capable of improvement . . . The slavery of restaurants closed on Sundays. Is it some kind of restaurant-based theology? And when they’re open, you want them closed as quickly as humanely possible . . .

BLANC
They have the ridiculous idea that they’re the most advanced nation on earth, but they haven’t discovered the principle of organisation. Everything here is connected in some incomprehensible sideways manner, instead of top to bottom like in a sensible country. There’s no system to anything—society, the law, literary life—everything’s just left to grow tangled together. There’s a word here, “shroobbery,” do you know it? I saw a sign at Keff Gardens, “The Shroobbery”, and there was nothing you could call a garden to be seen! England is one enormous shroobbery.

HERZEN
Keff Garden?

RUGE (jeers)
Not Keff! Kev!

BLANC (irritated)
Yes, Keff Gardens, they’re famous. You ought to get out more instead of brooding over your Russian soul.

HERZEN
It’s true—I haven’t entered into English life. The English take us up with cries of interest and delight as if they’ve discovered a new amusement, like an acrobat or a singer, but it’s a noise, an energy, to cover their instinctive aversion to foreigners. We’re amusing when we wear a hat we brought from home, and even funnier when we put on a hat we bought in St James’s. There’s no way round it. But their coarseness is the sinew of some kind of brute confidence, which is the reason England is home to every shade of political exile. They don’t give us asylum out of respect for the asylum-seekers but out of respect for themselves. They invented personal liberty, and they know it, and they did it without having any theories about it. They value liberty because it’s liberty. So French history empties out through the Dover customs. King Louis-Philippe ran straight for the Channel, under the thoughtful pseudonym of “Mr Smith” . . . and when the Republic took three lurches to the right, he was followed in order by the communist Barb’s, the socialist Blanc, and the bourgeois republican Ledru-Rollin.

Ledru-Rollin’s Aide enters with his master’s coat.

FRENCH AIDE
Your carriage awaits, Minister.

LEDRU-ROLLIN
Ah, well. I part reluctantly from your comfortable and elegant house where we might have continued to discuss bourgeois republicanism . . .

RUGE
I’ll come with you. Good night, Herzen.

LEDRU-ROLLIN (displeased)
But where do you live?

RUGE
Brighton.

LEDRU-ROLLIN Brighton?!

RUGE
Good night, Blanc.

While Ledru-Rollin is helped into his coat, Ruge goes out.

HERZEN
He’ll sleep on a bench at the station. (Herzen tactfully shepherds Ledru-Rollin to the door.) For the sake of the old days in Paris, eh?

LEDRU-ROLLIN (grumbling)
Oh yes, I remember Ruge in the forties, fancying himself the leader of an international revolutionary movement, hanging around with Marx and Herwegh . . .

HERZEN (sharply)
Let me see you out.

Herzen leaves with Ledru-Rollin and the Aide.

BLANC (to Worcell)
Oh—oh! Did you hear that? We don’t mention Herwegh! Are you asleep?

WORCELL (waking)
What?

BLANC
That ass Ledru-Rollin mentioned Herwegh . . . (He uses his index fingers to make cuckold’s horns.) Herzen’s wife and Herwegh, you know . . .

WORCELL (shortly)
What of it?

BLANC
Ah, yes—you’re right. What of it?

Herzen returns.

BLANC (cont.)
Did you hear that poor Ruge announced a public lecture on German philosophy, and only two people turned up?

HERZEN
I was one of them.

WORCELL
And I was the other.

Herzen is near tears. He wipes his eyes covertly.

HERZEN
Ruge was someone to meet, when I was young in Moscow. We studied contraband copies of his newspaper like religious texts. When I read Bakunin in Ruge’s Deutsche Jahrbucher, I thought, “Yes, this is the language of free men! We’ll make the revolution in Berlin, Paris, Brussels!” And the revolution when it came might have swept Ruge high up into the company of vindicated prophets . . . But the wave broke, and washed him up on the English shore, a refugee in the flotsam of refugees, their moment missed, their clothes shabbier by the month, their hopes shabbier, too . . . forever going over the past, living on recrimination and fantasy, schemers, dreamers, monomaniacs from every failed insurrection from Sicily to the Baltic, men who can’t get their shoes mended sending agents with earth-shaking instructions to Marseilles, Lisbon, Cologne . . . men who walk across London to give a piano lesson redrawing the frontiers of Europe on the oilskin table-tops of back-street restaurants, toppling emperors like so many sauce bottles . . . and Marx in his proud retreat in the British Museum, anathemising everyone else . . . The clock has stopped in this theatre of political exile! You want to start it again at the moment when all was lost, so that you can make the same mistakes again. You reject the logic of why things went the way they did. That’s vanity and cowardice.

BLANC
Your language is extravagant. I ignore it because it’s the language of a bystander. Your father left you rich, and you have been generous, but you’re a tourist and occasional journalist. Worcell, for example, leads the cause of Polish independence from his basement room in Hunter Street and gives mathematics lessons to earn a few shillings, hut he is a revolutionary. Good night, gentlemen. (Blanc leaves.)

WORCELL (deflecting)
Don’t.

HERZEN
I wasn’t going to. (Pause.) Independence isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, you know.

Worcell laughs asthmatically.

HERZEN (cont.)
What country could be more independent than Russia? And in Russia now there isn’t a squeak or a pinpoint of light. I have nowhere to publish. The Contemporary has stuck its head up out of harm’s way. And to whom would I speak? About what? I’ve stopped quarrelling with the world. (Worcell laughs.) No, I really have. I sat in this chair the first morning I woke up in this house. I’d just arrived in England, and for the first time . . . for the first time since Natalie died . . . no, from before that, I don’t know since when . . . but for the first time in a long time, there was silence. I didn’t have to talk or think or move, nothing was expected of me, I knew nobody and nobody knew where I was, everything was behind me, all the moving from place to place, the quarrels and celebrations, the desperate concerns of health and happiness, love, death, printer’s errors, picnics ruined by rain, the endless tumult of ordinary life . . . and I just sat quiet and alone all that day, looking at the tops of the trees on Primrose Hill through the mist. It was as if I’d come to the end of a long journey that started when I left Moscow more than six years ago with Natalie and the children and my mother, packed into a carriage hung with furs against the January cold. Half a dozen sledges with our friends came to see us off as far as the staging post, and then we were on our way to a land of limitless possibilities, known intimately from our dreams. I came to Paris as people used to come to Jerusalem or Rome, and found the city of the plain. It made one half-hearted effort to be worthy of itself and then collapsed satisfied under six feet of dung, not even brimstone. I have lost every illusion dear to me. I’m forty. I will dwell in the land of Nod, to the east of Eden, and the world will hear no more of me.

WORCELL
I came to speak to you . . . about . . . to ask you to help us . . . to start a Polish press in London.

HERZEN
A free Polish press? Yes. You should. You should. It’s a good idea. Isn’t there a Pole—yes—

WORCELL
Tchorzewski—

HERZEN (simultaneously)
—Tchorzewski who keeps a bookshop in Soho? Not only that, you’ve got people coming and going all the time, you could get material from home and smuggle in real news and discussion—wake up the intelligentsia, educate the young people, bring fresh blood to the cause. I’ll write something for you—you can translate it. Better still . . . can you get hold of Cyrillic type?

WORCELL (nods)
From Paris . . . We can buy second-hand fonts.

HERZEN (galvanised)
A free Russian press!—and Polish. Do you know a printer?

WORCELL
Ciernecki is a printer.

HERZEN
We’ll need—

WORCELL
Premises.

herzen (simultaneously)
—premises. Have a seat!
(Herzen sits down and grabs a sheet of paper and a pen.)
We’ll need a supplier, paper, ink, an assistant, part-time to begin with . . . what else? How much?

February 1853

“The Schoolroom.”

A table with a cloth reaching the floor. Malwida enters, holding the necessities of giving a lesson, but in mid-pantomime in search of a lost child whom she knows to be hiding under the table.

MALWIDA
Now, where could she have got to! I’m sure I saw her come in here! What a mystery! Oh, dear, perhaps she’s lost forever!

And so on, with sounds of excited suppressed delight emanating from under the table, until, after drawing a blank here and there, Malwida peeks under the tablecloth, releasing a paroxysm of pleasure from the unseen Olga.

Tata enters with her schoolbooks.

May 1853

A party can be heard going on, with laughter and some music and singing in Russian. Herzen and Worcell, with drinks in hand, study printed Cyrillic sheets. Maria enters, complaining.

MARIA
Sascha muss ins Bett. Er hoert nicht auf mich!—und jetzt ist auch noch Tata heruntergekommen! [Sasha has to go to bed. I have no control over him!—and now Tata has come downstairs!]

Herzen waves her away without looking up. Maria leaves.

WORCELL
To read such things, printed in Russian . . . it makes you frightened.

Sasha enters, complaining.

SASHA
Papa—Herr Ciernecki zeigt mir gerade— [Papa—Mr Ciernecki is showing me—]

HERZEN
Am I a German?

SASHA
Maria says I have to go to bed, and Mr Ciernecki is teaching me chords!

HERZEN
Come here. Come close. Look at this.

Sasha takes the sheet.

SASHA
What does it say?

HERZEN
You can read it.

SASHA
It’s difficult.

HERZEN
Difficult? What is that tutor reading with you?

SASHA
Marlinski’s stories, they’re exciting.

HERZEN
Well, just read the words at the top, about the crow.

SASHA
Why?

HERZEN
It’s an article by your papa.

SASHA
“I am not yet the real crow but only a small crow . . . the real one is still flying in the sky . . .”

HERZEN
The words of Pugachev, who made a rebellion against the Tsarina Katerina in the eighteenth century. Now this is why you must remember today. What I have written—words like these—have rarely been whispered at home, even more rarely written down, but in the whole history of Russia they have never before been in print. This is the first time. Will you remember?

Sasha nods.

SASHA
Will you come and hear me play?

Herzen cuffs Sasha affectionately. He picks up his glass. Worcell does the same.

HERZEN
To the Free Russian and Polish Press in London.

They drain their glasses and smash them joyfully, embrace and leave, Sasha with them.