Superfluous man

For reasons I better keep to myself, lest I bore you with my personal life, I feel today like superfluous man. So instead of boring you with stories of myself, I will try not to bore you within The Diary of a Superfluous Man (1850) by Turgenev, the Russian writer better known as the author of Fathers and Sons.

March 23. Winter again. The snow is falling in flakes. Superfluous, superfluous. . . . That’s a capital word I have hit on. The more deeply I probe into myself, the more intently I review all my past life, the more I am convinced of the strict truth of this expression. Superfluous–that’s just it. To other people that term is not applicable, . . . People are bad, or good, clever, stupid, pleasant, and disagreeable; but superfluous . . . no. Understand me, though: the universe could get on without those people too . . . no doubt; but uselessness is not their prime characteristic, their most distinctive attribute, and when you speak of them, the word ‘superfluous’ is not the first to rise to your lips. But I . . . there’s nothing else one can say about me; I’m superfluous and nothing more. A supernumerary, and that’s all. Nature, apparently, did not reckon on my appearance, and consequently treated me as an unexpected and uninvited guest. A facetious gentleman, a great devotee of preference, said very happily about me that I was the forfeit my mother had paid at the game of life. I am speaking about myself calmly now, without any bitterness. . . . It’s all over and done with!

5 thoughts on “Superfluous man

  1. Gautam

    Jan -I can totally relate to the superfluous man. I felt like one earlier this year- so I went ahead and quit my job. Now I manage to watch more films per week.


  2. Gautam

    Thanks Jan- David himself was pleased. It’s just a very nice way to write. The blogger at shoot the projectionist picked up on my post and posted his 299 variation where he reviewed several films in exactly 24 words each.

    It’s quite a chain reaction.

  3. Ed Hardy, Jr.

    Hi. I’m the guy at Shoot the Projectionist. What I actually did was post a reaction to Gautam’s cinema 299 that was itself 299 words and quoted the last sentence of his piece.

    You can find it at

    The 24 word per film reviews is something I’ve been doing for a while: it was the reason I was attracted to the 299 idea in the first place.

    Hopefully, we can continue this “chain reaction.”

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