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Fyodor Dostoevsky: Holocaustal weapons of future wars

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

Russian writers on war

Fyodor Dostoevsky: Selections on war

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Fyodor Dostoevsky
From Diary of a Writer
Translated by Boris Brasol

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At present weapons are being changed every ten years, and even more frequently. In another fifteen years or so, people will use for shooting not rifles but some kind of lightning, some sort of a machine emitting a holocaustal electrical stream. Tell me: what can we invent in this line so as to surprise our neighbors? What if in fifteen years every great power will have secretly stored away one such surprise for any kind of eventuality?

(1873)

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What if each one of them should suddenly learn the whole secret? What if each one of them should suddenly learn how much straightforwardness, honesty, most sincere, heartfelt cheerfulness, purity, magnanimous feelings, good will, intellect – nay, what’s intellect? – wit, most refined and communicative wit, there is in him – in each one, decidedly – in each one of them!…

But the trouble is that you do not know yourselves, how beautiful you are! Do you know that each one of you, if only he would so desire, could at once make everybody in this hall happy and captivate everybody? And this power is within each one of you, but it is so deeply hidden that long ago it began to appear incredible. And is it really possible that the golden age exists only on porcelain cups?

Don’t frown, your excellency, at the words golden age: I give my word of honor that you will not be compelled to wear golden age attire with a fig leaf; your whole general’s uniform will be left with you. I assure you that even people with the rank of a general may be admitted to the golden age…

(1876)

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