He thought about the fact that each of those houses had its dead. And everyone who had lived in those old houses fifty years ago, they had all died. Some of the dead he still remembered.

“When a person dies, they should burn down the house, too,” Peredonov thought wistfully, “it’s just too frightening.”

The Petty Demon, Fyodor Sologub

Almost halfway through, I’m still not sure what to make of Sologub’s masterpiece. There are clear affinities with Dostoevsky’s Demons, which I just finished earlier this month—for good and for ill. The characterization in the first half has been Dostoevskian (that’s the “for ill”), certainly. (Edit: the second half was amazing, though still without much movement of characters not named Sasha or Lyudmila, and put this in the pantheon of my absolute favorite books!)

This little moment of Peredonov’s captures something interesting and true about human experience, however. We can’t shake the ghosts around us, especially if we continue to inhabit the same physical ground where we encountered them in life.

Original text:

Он думал, что у каждого здесь дома есть свои покойники. И все, кто жил в этих старых домах лет пятьдесят тому назад, все умерли. Некоторых покойников еще он помнил.

“Человек умрет, так и дом бы сжечь, — тоскливо думал Передонов, — а то страшно очень”.

«Мелкий бес», Ф. Сологуб