“I haven't answered, why? You insist on an answer, why?” repeated the captain, winking. “That little word 'why' has run through all the universe from the first day of creation, and all nature cries every minute to it's Creator, 'why?' And for seven thousand years it has had no answer, and must Captain Lebyadkin alone answer? And is that justice, madam?”
“That's all nonsense and not to the point!” cried Varvara Petrovna, getting angry and losing patience. “That's allegory; besides, you express yourself too sensationally, sir, which I consider impertinence.”
“Madam,” the captain went on, not hearing, “I should have liked perhaps to be called Ernest, yet I am forced to bear the vulgar name Ignat—why is that do you suppose? I should have liked to be called Prince de Monbart, yet I am only Lebyadkin, derived from a swan.* Why is that? I am a poet, madam, a poet in soul, and might be getting a thousand roubles at a time from a publisher, yet I am forced to live in a pig pail. Why? Why, madam? To my mind Russia is a freak of nature and nothing else.”
“Can you really say nothing more definite?”
“I can read you the poem, 'The Cockroach,' madam.”
“Madam, I'm not mad yet! I shall be mad, no doubt I shall be, but I'm not so yet. Madam, a friend of mine—a most honourable man—has written a Krylov's fable, called 'The Cockroach.' May I read it?”
“You want to read some fable of Krylov's?”
“No, it's not a fable of Krylov's I want to read. It's my fable, my own composition. Believe me, madam, without offence I'm not so uneducated and depraved as not to understand that Russia can boast of a great fable-writer, Krylov, to whom the Minister of Education has raised a monument in the Summer Gardens for the diversion of the young. Here, madam, you ask me why? The answer is at the end of this fable, in letters of fire.”
“Read your fable.”
“Lived a cockroach in the world
Such was his condition,
In a glass he chanced to fall
Full of fly-perdition.”
“Heavens! What does it mean?” cried Varvara Petrovna. “That's when flies get into a glass in the summer-time,” the captain explained hurriedly with the irritable impatience of an author interrupted in reading. “Then it is perdition to the flies, any fool can understand. Don't interrupt, don't interrupt. You'll see, you'll see. . . .” He kept waving his arms.
“But he squeezed against the flies,
They woke up and cursed him,
Raised to Jove their angry cries;
'The glass is full to bursting!'
In the middle of the din
Came along Nikifor,
Fine old man, and looking in . . .
* From Lebyed, a Swan.
I haven't quite finished it. But no matter, I'll tell it in words,” the captain rattled on. “Nikifor takes the glass, and in spite of their outcry empties away the whole stew, flies, and beetles and all, into the pig pail, which ought to have been done long ago. But observe, madam, observe, the cockroach doesn't complain. That's the answer to your question, why?” he cried triumphantly. “' The cockroach does not complain.'
The possessed/The Devils by Fedor Dostoevsky