Bad Dancing

And everything would have turned out happily had not rumour of the komarinsky finally reached Foma Fromich.

Foma was shocked and immediately sent foma say wrongfor the Colonel.

“What is it? What has happened?” Uncle exclaimed, panic-stricken.

“What has happened? Do you realize he was dancing the komarinsky?”

“Well . . . what about it?”

“What do you mean, ‘What about it?'” roared Foma. “How can you say such a thing? You who are their master and, in a sense, their father! Have you any idea what the komarinsky stands for? Do you know that this song depicts a vile peasant in a state of drunkenness, who was about to commit a highly immoral act? Do you realize what this debauched yokel did? He violated the most sacred ties, and as it were tramped upon them with his huge peasant boots that are accustomed to nothing but stomping the floors of drinking dens! Do you realize that your reply has insulted my noblest feelings? Do you realize that your reply has insulted me personally? Do you realize all this, or not?”

“But Foma . . . it’s only a song, Foma.”

“What do you mean, only a song! And you are not ashamed to admit you know this song—you, a member of decent society, father of fine and innocent children and a Colonel to boot! Only a song! How can a person with a grain of propriety admit that he knows this song without dying of further wrongnessshame, that he has even heard of it? How, how?”

“Well, you have, Foma, seeing as you are asking,” Uncle replied in all simplicity and confusion.

“What was that? I know? Me . . . me, you really mean me! The insolence!” Foma Fromich suddenly yelled, jumping to his feet and choking with anger. He never expected such a stunning reply.

I shall not attempt to describe Foma Fromich’s rage. The custodian of morality banished the Colonel from his sight for the indecency and ineptitude of his reply. Foma Fromich now swore to apprehend Falaley at the scene of the crime, as he danced the komarinsky. In the evenings, when everybody thought that he was occupied with some task in hand, he would steal out into the garden and, skirting the vegetable beds, conceal himself in the hemp, from where there was a good view of the patch of ground on which the dancing was supposed to take place. He lay in wait for poor Falaley like a hunter stalking his prey, and gleefully looked forward to the distress he would bring upon the whole household, and especially upon Uncle, if ever he were successful.

—Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Village of Stepanchikovo

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2 Responses to “Bad Dancing”


  1. 1 possum April 11, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Dostoyevsky was a keen observer of humanity. “Methinks thou dost protest too much” applies as well in his time as in ours. In my hometown the expression had to do with tossing a rock into a pack of dogs. The one hit by the rock barks first.

    • 2 bluenred April 11, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      That komarinsky must have been the real Bad and Nasty dance of its age. Compelling people to hide in the bushes to get a glimpse of it.


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