CTK Insights

23 Jul

Wisdom of Kozma Prutkov

Kozma Prutkov is a collective pen name of the count Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy and two of his cousins - Zhemchuzhnikov brothers, Alexei and Vladimir. Mostly in the 1850s-60s, Kozma Prutkov published aphorisms, fables, epigrams, satiric plays, humorous and nonsense verses. Many of the aphorisms became an authentic part of Russian folklore.

If ever asked what is more useful - the sun or the moon - answer moon because the sun shines at the daytime when it's light anyway.

On the other hand, the sun shines and also warms whereas the moon only shines and that in the moonlit night only.

At the time of K. Prutkov' literary activity Russia was a stratified society in several ways. The importance of a person was judged by the genealogical origins, the class he or she belonged to, the level on the professional ladder, the means at one's disposal, amount and quality of influence at one's command. Corruption and nepotism were rampant.

In 1883, Vladimir Zhemchuzhnikov has shed some light on the history and the intended traits of the K. Prutkov personage. For the main trait he uses the Russian word "казенный", that does not have a clear English counterpart. The word designates a rigid, official, arrogant, narrow minded attitude adopted by many a bureaucrat in the Russian officialdom. Uniforms were common, even for civil servants.

If there were no tailors, how would we tell the difference between various Departments?

Juxtaposition of the narrow mindedness with literary and philosophical pretensions has made K. Prutkov grotesque and often funny.

The imagination of a poet in clutches of a grief is like a leg ensconced in a new boot.

Following are a few further samples:

The reason death comes at the end of a life is to provide time for the necessary preparations.

Pat a cow on the nose - she'll wave her tail.

Do not be timid in the face of an enemy: the worst enemy of a man is the man himself.

At the bottom of every heart there is some sediment.

No one can embrace unembraceable.

Do not cut everything that grows.

If you want to be happy, be so.

Where is the beginning of the end that ends the beginning?

A man is split downwards and not upwards because two pillars are more reliable than one.

Looking at the world one can't help but wonder.

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