Thursday, January 12

Even at that hour when the grey sky of St. Petersburg is shrouded in total darkness and all its race of officials have dined and sated themselves, each in their own way, in accordance with their means and culinary preferences, when the clerkdom of St. Petersburg are resting from their daily scratching of pens, from the fuss and bustle of their own and other departments and from all the extra and unnecessary work voluntarily undertaken by all those of a restless disposition, when the officials are hastening to devote their remaining free time to pleasurable pursuits: the more enterprising dashing to the theatre, some roaming the streets, peeking under the ladies’ natty bonnets, some passing the evening addressing compliments to some attractive maiden, the star of a small constellation of officials, some, and this is their most common occupation simply, setting off to a colleague’s third or fourth floor flat, where he occupies two small rooms and a hall or kitchen sporting certain fashionable pretensions, a lamp or some other knick-knack, obtained at the cost of many a sacrificed dinner and night on the town; in other words, even at the time when all officials disperse around the small flats of their friends to play storm whist, sipping tea out of glasses and eating cheap rusks, drawing on long church-warden pipes, and relaying during the dealing some slander picked up from high society, which the average Russian always and in whatever state finds totally irresistible, or even, when there is nothing else to talk about, retelling the age old joke about the commandant who is informed that the tail of the horse on Falconet’s monument has been docked — that is to say, even at that time when the rest of the world is looking for entertainment Akaky Akakievich would not permit himself any such frivolity. No one could say that they had ever seen him in a party. Having sated himself with the pleasures of copying, he would go to bed, smiling at the thought of the morrow, at what God would send him to copy. Such was the peaceful life led by a man who with a salary of four hundred rubles was able to be content with his lot, and such would it have continued, perhaps, to a hoary old age, were it not for certain disasters which lie in store not only for titular, but even privy, state, aulic and all other councillors, and even for those who neither give nor take counsel of any sort. 

~The Overcoat. Gogol.

Even at that hour when the grey sky of St. Petersburg is shrouded in total darkness and all its race of officials have dined and sated the...