where the writers are
can you imagine
by cedric smith

what a masterpiece peter the great's blackamoor would have been if only pushkin had finished it?

 i mean, seriously. i think it would have given othello a slap in the chops.  

a dark, comely, melancholy man prepares himself to be wed at the tsar's insistence to a terrified young aristocratic beauty who has already sworn her love to a pauper. the pauper's away training to be an army officer...what happens? does wife come to love husband? does she grow to hate him? her kind of virginal fear is one of those positions where it can so easily go either way. and what about the army soldier? does he return, turn to desperate drinking and day-long bouts gambling and make a nuisance of himself? blackmail, maybe. or does he shoot himself and leave behind a letter of infinite reproach, or does he return in disguise with some dastardly plan  - or -  

(look away if you hate spoilers) 

wait, there's also the fact that our hero has fathered a child with a (married) french countess, and the child is being raised in secret somewhere in the french countryside. what and who does this boy become? could the child and ibraham's wife's former lover join forces against ibrahim? or could it be a story of slavish filial adoration and despair, or - ???

(end of spoiler talk.) 

but maybe all this is simply due to the static electricity of the unfinished story, that sense of craft interrupted. the rope half woven yet curiously holding its shape, &c. what's there won't unravel. still. there the tale was, going along at full speed, then i came to [the fragment breaks off at this point] and i gave this great echoing shout of 'noooo-ooo'- was in the bath at the time.

this is trivial of course, but i v much like the bit where the tsar goes up to a young dandy at a ball and says: "listen, korsakov, those trousers of yours are made of a kind of velvet even i don't wear, and i'm a lot richer than you. that is extravagance; see that you and i don't have a falling out.'

 who says nineteenth century russians haven't got jokes?