|Portrait of Andreyev by Ilya Repin|
Lowry refers to Andreyev in a letter to Carol Brown dated 27/4/1926; "The great trouble about this first school tea is that one has'nt salved any of one's friends as yet, one sits where one may find a place, there is such a clatter of bent tin knives and forks on rancid ham that one can't hear oneself eat if one would eat, which one in one case- one-would'nt: the whole thing, believe me, reminding me of the sordidity of the first chapters of a Russian novel by Leonid Andryev." (Collected Letters Vol 1 Pg. 13). Andryev only wrote one novel The Seven Who Were Hanged - so we must assume that Lowry is referring to this novel. The reference is an insight into Lowry's feelings for The Leys.
Later, everything in the world—day and night, footsteps, voices, the soup of sour cabbage, produced in him a continuous terror, plunging him into a state of savage uncomprehending astonishment. His weak mind was unable to combine these two things which so monstrously contradicted each other—the bright day, the odor and taste of cabbage—and the fact that two days later he must die. He did not think of anything. He did not even count the hours, but simply stood in mute stupefaction before this contradiction which tore his brain in two. And he became evenly pale, neither white nor redder in parts, and appeared to be calm. Only he ate nothing and ceased sleeping altogether. He sat all night long on a stool, his legs crossed under him, in fright. Or he walked about in his cell, quietly, stealthily, and sleepily looking about him on all sides. His mouth was half-open all the time, as though from incessant astonishment, and before taking the most ordinary thing into his hands, he would examine it stupidly for a long time, and would take it distrustfully. The Seven Who Were Hanged Chapter 3
|Illustration for The Seven Who Were Hanged by John Buckland Wright|