THE PLOT IN SHORT
An inventor named Lopatkin struggles against entrenched bureaucracy and self-servers in an attempt to help the Soviet pipe industry. He wins his personal battle, but the "invisible empire" of the bureaucracy remains intact and Lopatkin knows that a long struggle still lies ahead.
1. It is winter and snow is piled high. Leonid Ivanovich Drozhdov, the general director of a kombinat (large factory complex), arrives back in Muzga, Siberia, after a business trip to Moscow. He has oranges in his pocket; and his wife, Nadya is wearing a new, foreign fur coat. He has good reason to think he will soon be promoted to Moscow. Nadya is much younger and much taller than Drozhdov. She is five-months pregnant.
At his factory office, Drozhdov meets with chief engineer Ganichev and the local party secretary to discuss the new work schedule. Later, Drozhdov calls into his office a worker named Maksiutenko, who was found dallying with a girl from the planning department. Maksiutenko is married to a good woman and has three children. To scare him, Drozhdov has Maksiutenko write an explanation of what happened and deposits in his safe. Drozhdov threatens to make the statement public unless Maksiutenko mends his ways.
Drozhdov then finally speaks to an inventor, Dmitri Alekseyevich Lopatkin, who has been patiently waiting for hours. Three years ago, Lopatkin had come up with a design for a machine for the centrifugal casting of iron drainpipes. Since then, whenever Drozhdov went to Moscow, Lopatkin asked him to push his project with the ministry. Drozhdov made only half-hearted efforts. And now, the Ministry has sent down plans for another centrifugal machine designed by a group of scientists and designers led by a well-known scientist, Professor Vassili Zakharovich Avdiyev. Instructions were given to build this machine immediately, so Lopatkin's plan was dead. Lopatkin takes the news humbly and with resignation. Drozhdov says Lopatkin made two mistakes: (1) He submitted the plan to the factory invention committee, not the Ministry ("I am under no obligation to promote your machine"); and (2) He is a lone individual. Lopatkin responds, "Although I am a single individual, I am not doing this for myself."
"Although I am a single individual, I am not doing this for myself."
Feeling sorry for Lopatkin, Drozhdov orders that he be given some extra coal and firewood.
2. Nadya moved to Muzga three years ago, immediately after graduating from teachers college. When she first arrived, she noticed and secretly fell in love with Lopatkin. That changed, and a year later, she married Drozhdov.
Ater their marriage, Drozhdov told Nadya that all her ideas were from 19th century literature and had no significance today. "We are engaged in a race with the capitalist world," he said. "First one must build the house and then one can hang the pictures." He saw himself as an honest, hard-working carpenter building the house. Further, he said, "I belong to the producers of material values. The main spiritual value of our time is the ability to work well, to create the greatest possible quantity of necessary things. We are working for the basis....The more I strengthen the material basis, the firmer out state will be."
Before going to sleep, Drozhdov would often reread the Short Course of the History on the Party, particularly chapter four, the philosophical one by Stalin.
Be like Drozhdov!
Read Chapter 4 of the
Short Course on the
History of the Party:
Dialectical and Historical
by J.V. Stalin
Recently, Nadya had found herself subject to a strange thoughtfulness, which she could not explain. As she walks to the school where she teaches geography, she sees Lopatkin approaching. She hopes he will not see her, because she stopped exchanging greetings with him a year ago. Privately, Drozhdov had referred to Lopatkin as a "man from Mars".
At school, Nadya sits with her friend Valentina Pavlovna, a teacher of English. Valentina had abandoned her loving husband and taken their young daughter because she, Valentina, was secretely in love with another man who does not even know of her feelings. She says it was not love at first sight. "To fall in love...there must be some kind of clash. Some kind of conflict is needed for character to show itself."
Nadya is criticised for having given Rimma Ganicheva, daughter of the factory chief engineer, a "2" when she gets "3" in her other subjects.
In class, Nadya calls on Sima Sianova, a pale, thin girl about whom Nadya has a maternal tenderness. Sima always gets a "3" and Nadya hopes to raise those grades. Nadya asks Sima to draw the rivers of Russia. Sima is nervous at the beginning and makes some mistakes, but with the help of prompting from other students (which Nadya pretends not to notice), Sima does the assignment correctly. Nadya gives her a "4". Immediately, Rimma raises her hand to taddle on the prompting. Nadya changes the grade to a "3", but adds, "To tell the truth out of spite is just as bad as to conceal it."
After class, some of the students lobby with Nadya on Sima's behalf. Sima comes from a large, poor family and has a lot of work to do.
3. Excited about his impending promotion to Moscow, Drozhdov decides to throw a two-year anniversary party for himself and Nadya. He invites all the local party, government, and industry leaders. Nadya wants to invite her schoolteacher friends, but Drozhdov advises against it. He says they will be envious of the things that they have and that separation from them is inevitable; inviting them to the party will only speed up the process. Nadya invites only Valentina Pavlovna.
Ganichev, who is designated to take over for Drozhdov when he leaves, is at the the party with his wife. (The elder Ganichev daughter, Jeanne, is in Moscow studying chemistry. There are rumors that she was romantically involved with Lopatkin before her departure.) Ganichev tells Drozhdov that Pyotr Andreyevich Galitsky, a scientist come from Moscow, wants to stop work on the Avdiyev machine, that its design is out of date. Drozhdov says Avdiyev and the Minister will give Galitsky what-for.
Nadya feels sick and lies down in her own room. Valentina joins her and asks why no normal people, no friends are at the party--only officials. Afterwards, Nadya asks Drozhdov why he has no real friends. He says it's because everyone is in some way dependent on him. As they rise in importance, their isolation will be more complete.
"The higher we rise, the more complete our isolation will be."
4. Nadya goes to see the Sianovs, hoping to convince them to give Sima less work so she can concentrate on her studies. They live in a poor mud hut--Sima, her five brothers and sisters, her ailing mother and her father. Sima is milking a cow. Nadya sees at once that her request is pointless. Nadya is surprised to see Lopatkin there--he is a permanent border.
Lopatkin tells how he submitted his invention and the Minister declared it useful and original. He was summoned to Moscow to build it. But once there, he got the runaround for three months, then was told that the machine wouldn't be built. Professor Avdiyev, who has earlier submitted his own type of machine, declared--without any proof--that Lopatkin's wouldn't work, that it is impossible to get pipes without long-channel casting. Ever since then, Lopatkin has been working on a new design of his machine to prove Avdiyev wrong. This consumes all his time, so he can't return to a normal job. His main problem is getting drawing paper. Drozhdov has refused to supply any.
That night, Drozhdov works late at the factory. He wants to achieve something great before he leaves, something so impressive that Ganichev will never be able to equal him.
5. One day in January, Nadya is in the teachers lounge at school. Someone announces that Lopatkin is coming to get some information. Without knowing why, Nadya launches into a loud denunciation of Lopatkin as paranoid crank engaged in some useless project. Nadya then see that Lopatkin is standing right there and has heard everything. She keels over with intense pain in her belly. She is admitted to the hospital.
The next morning, Nadya realizes that she is alone in the hospital ward. All the other patients have been moved out into the corridor, because she is the wife of a big-wig. Nadya demands that the other patients be brought back in, and she gets her way.
The teachers visit and give her a note from Lopatkin. In it, Loptakin says he respects Drozhdov as a leader but has a different outlook. Lopatkin suspects that Nadya does not entirely share Drozhdov's views either. He apologizes for being the involuntary cause of Nadya's suffering.
Drozhdov visits Nadya and says that Maksiutenko has been called to the Projects Institute to work on the "other machine", possibly Lopatkin's. He also chides her for her hospital "uprising". If, for example, Mrs. Ganichev has to be admitted for some reason, all the other patients will be back in the hall again. "Equalitarianism is something harmful." he says.
6. In April, Nadya gives birth to a son. One day, she is strolling with him in the baby carriage and meets Valentina, who is carrying some drawing paper to Lopatkin--the man she secretely loves. He still does not know of her feelings. Lopatkin has just completed a new model of his machine and received a directive from the Ministry that his machine will be made.
At home, Drozhdov announces that his promotion has come through and that they will be moving to Moscow. Nadya asks Drozhdov why he was always sneering at Lopatkin. Drozhdov says inventors always have an exaggerated sense of self-importance. He says, "I am a descendant of the common herd. I have a heretitary aversion to all these irreplaceables".
Three days later, Drozhdov leaves for Moscow, leaving Nadya with her son and mother-in-law. In June, he says things are ready and that she should come. Before leaving, Nadya goes to the Sianovs to see Lopatkin, but he is not there. He has gone to the regional capital to work on his machine. Galitsky also comes, looking for any drawings that Loptakin might have left behind; he wants to know the principle on which Lopatkin's machine is designed.
Nadya leaves a note for Lopatkin and departs.
7. Loptakin's mother died in Murom before the war while he was away at university. When the war started, he enlisted as a private, but by 1942 he was in command of a platoon. He was wounded on the Leningrad front and awarded the Order of the Red Star.
ORDER OF THE RED STAR
Instituted on 6 April 1930. Awarded to military personnel for: Personal courage and bravery in battle, excellent organization and capable combat leadership. Made of solid silver and red enamel.
Current value on the open market: $20-$40
When Lopatkin first submitted his invention, Avdiyev dismissed it as complicated and clumsy, and Deputy Minister Shutikov accepted this opinion. The only people who believed in Lopatkin were Pyotr Sianov--Sima's father, who fed him and helped him with his models--and Valentina Pavlovna--who provided much needed drawing paper. Valentina was constantly blushing in his presence. Once, he almost guessed that she was in love with him, but his conscience told him to hear and see nothing, so as not to ruin the friendship.
Once, on the same day, he received two notes: one from the Ministry, beginning "It is not considered possible...."; and the second from Jeanne Ganichev. Jeanne wrote saying that despite Lopatkin's assurances to the contrary, she has learned that his affairs are not going well and she demanded to know the truth. Lopatkin wrote back that while he has faith in his eventual victory, his situation is in fact bad. He urges her to "forget everything that you and I talked about."
As soon as Lopatkin mails this letter, Shutikov changes his position and orders that a prototype of Lopatkin's machine be built. Drozhdov summons Lopatkin for a meeting. Drozhdov congratulates Lopatkin and asks when he will be going to the district capital to work on the machine. Lopatkin says in three months, so in the meantime Maksiutenko can continue work on Avdiyev's machine. Drozhdov tells Lopatkin to go to the factory supply hall for a new suit of clothes. Lopatkin leaves without accepting the clothes. His visit to the school later that same day resulted in Nadya's hospitalization.
8. In mid-June, Lopatkin reports to the design bureau in the regional capital. The head of the section of special equipment, Anatoly Ivanovich Uriupin, and the deisgners there seem hostile to Lopatkin, especially when they learn that his education is theoretical, not practical. Arakhovsky, an older designer, scoffs at the overly detailed nature of Lopatkin's drawings. Maksiutenko is also assigned to the project. After a week of working on the drawings, Loptakin sees that this design is not as clumsy as they claimed. In August, a young designer named Kolya looks at the drawings and scoffs at the reducer and worm-gear. He asks why they're not using a compressed-air apparatus, which has already been made up and successfully used on two machines. Lopatkin is surprised that the engineers on the project missed that idea.
On the way home, Lopatkin runs into Arakhovsky, who warns him that he still has a long, difficult road to go. He points out the "trick" Uriupin already played on him about the air compressor; Lopatkin was saved only by the impetuous Kolya. Arakhovsky promises to give Lopatkin some books to help him spot some of the other difficulties.
The next day, Lopatkin goes to Arakhovsky's house to get the books. Arakhovsky is working in his lovely, orderly, well-maintained vegetable garden. Arakhovsky says he was an inventor, too, creating a machine for piercing rocks in mining. The bureaucracy, however, tried to buy him off. He wouldn't agree and eventually was defeated. Now he operates on the principle of, "Open your eyes and shut your mouth." Arakhovsky says that Lopatkin's appearance has given him some renewed hope. They drink a toast to keeping the torches of hope alive.
"Every man is an inventor who is creating something new in his own sphere."
9. With the help of the Arakhovsky's technical books, Lopatkin spots some clumsy contrivances which Uriupin and Maksiutenko had allowed in the machine. Uriupin raises a ruckus ("This is money, this is time, this is a plan!"), but Lopatkin forces the errors to be corrected. Finally, at the end of October, all the work is done and Loptakin is handed his finished blueprints. Loptakin accidentally discovers Uriupin and Maksiutenko working on their own design for a centrifugal casting machine, competition for Loptakin's machine. Thus caught, they let Lopatkin look at the design. Lopatkin is not impressed and finds many flaws in it.
Arakhovsky gives Lopatkin some copies of the journal Metal, one issue of which contains on article on Lopatkin's machine. Arakhovsky advises Lopatkin to act circumspectly in Moscow when he meets with injustice. He tells Lopatkin to stay away from Avdieyev and the scientific institutions there. Rather, Lopatkin should make friends with the factory chaps. In parting, Arakhovsky gives Lopatkin a volume by mathemetician and mechanical engineer Lagrange.
Be like Lopatkin!
Learn about the most important
mathematical and physical
scientist of the 18th century:
Joseph Louis de Lagrange
1736 - 1831
Two days later, Loptakin is back in Muzga at the Sianovs, who are all happy to see him and celebrate his victory. Lopatkin reads the letter left by Nadya. In it, Nadya says she feels guilty in front of him. She also gives a short description of the Avdieyev machine, which was being constructed at the factory. She notes that Galitsky has declared that the machine is wasteful. In order to save Avdieyev's face, Drozhdov has canceled tests of the machine. But four of the machines are being made and Ganichev will cast pipes with them, so it is he, not Drozhdov, who will be accountable for the losses in wages, materials, etc. Further, Avdieyev's machine was build with funds which had been assigned for Lopatkin's. This was the work of Shutikov.
The next day, while chopping wood, Lopatkin sees Valentina. She is distressed by the news that he is soon to leave for Moscow. She pointedly says they may never see each other again. He says nothing. She kisses him several times, then turns and walks away without looking back.
1. In January in Moscow, while waiting for the Institute to discuss his machine, Lopatkin reads in the journal Metal an article about a centrifugal casting machine designed by a graduate of the Institute, Volovik. It is basically a reworking of Lopatkin's machine but without understanding the main feature--interchangeable molds.
LOPATKIN'S MACHINE"The machine differs from other machines in two radical respects. In the first place, it is not a mere accessory, but a genuine machine, in which the working time is fully exploited. On all machines with which we are already familiar the auxiliary operations are carried out manually, and during this time the main device--that is, the casting machine proper--is at a standstill. On my mahine all auxiliary operations are carried out by a special mechanism, working simultaneously with the casting machine, not holding it up. This insures an increase in the productive capacity of the machine which at present is no less than five times what it was before. The second peculiarity of this machine is that it occupies only a fourth of the space required by existing devices. This decrease in dimensions is achieved by the coreless casting of the metal....The machine would produce fifty pipes an hour; each pipe would weigh a pound less; only two workmen would be needed to work the machine; and all processes could be made completely automatic in the future. "
While waiting for the review meeting to begin, an engineer at the Institute tells Lopatkin that Avdiyev will not attend the meeting, which means the machine will not be approved. That's the way things have been for the past 25 years and that's the way they still are. Some engineers grumble about Avdiyev's imperial ways and obliquely mock his last machine. Other engineers worship him.
The meeting is chaired by Academician Pyotr Benediktovich Saratovtsev. Lopatkin is criticized by Avdieyev's hatchetmen, Fundator and Tepikin. They say he is bankrupt as regards theory. Galitsky criticizes the Institute for wallowing in the deep oceans of theoretical mysteries, when Lopatkin's machine offers a practical way of testing and solving the problem much quicker than they could via their theoretical investigations. Galitsky then says that Loptakin's machine is deficient in one way: the metal will begin to crystallize before being fully poured into the molds. Lopatkin jumps up and effectively disproves this claim.
Galitsky proposes that Lopatkin be brought together with a competent designer and calculator to produce an experimental model of the machine. He is alone. It is decided to cancel the machine.
After the meeting, Galitsky tells Lopatkin, "Improve your machine regardless of what anyone says! Work on it. We shall meet again."
2. Lopatkin walks the streets, thinking. He comes to the street where Jeanne lives. He sees her walking arm in arm with a young Army captain named Devyatov. Jeanne catches sight of Lopatkin, but walks right on past, taking no notice. Then, half a block later, she stops and with sudden realization runs back to where she saw Loptakin, looking for him. But Lopatkin hides.
After receiving the official rejection of his machine, Lopatkin writes a complaint to the Chief of the Technical Department, who, it turns out, is Drozhdov. At a meeting with Drozhdov and Shutikov, Lopatkin is told that his complaints have no chance of success. Drozhdov says Lopatkin has shown only political instability, that he is a solitary hero and is unnecessary. Drozhdov says if the technical problem really requires a solution, it will be done by the research institutes "because collective research always leads to the quickest and best solution of any problem. The collective is superior to any individual genius." Drozhdov continues that the people have no use of primitive passions that jolt the economic routine. "We shall reach the required decisions gradually, without panic, at the required time."
"The collective is superior to any individual genius."
Nonetheless, Lopatkin files a complaint with the Ministry, various committees and newspapers. He begins to feel a pain in his chest. A doctor prescribes rest, exercise, and a healthy diet.
One day, Lopatkin sees an article in the newspaper entitled "Open the door to inventors!" It is written by Shutikov. Lopatkin writes a letter to the paper's editor pointing out Shutikov's duplicity and recounting his own story. While waiting at the newspaper office to deliver the letter, Lopatkin meets with an old inventor, Professor Evgeny Ustinovich Busko. Busko tells Lopatkin that his letter will have no effect; that Lopatkin will run about to and fro accomplishing nothing and that eventually his invention will be spirited abroad. Long ago, Busko invented a powder that instantaneously puts out any flame. It was rejected by committee after committee, but eventually appeared in fire extinguishers made in foreign countries.
3. Busko takes Lopatkin to his small apartment to show him his various other inventions, including a ceramic that does not require a special type of clay and a powder for extinguishing oil fires that is three times as effective as any currently in use. Busko wishes he could give his inventions to the people, but he is always stymied by the bureaucracy. Busko has eight certificates of authorship (invention), but many more inventions than that. He has stopped registering his inventions because they all get rejected by committees, who attack not what he created but who he is--a lone individual. And after such rejection the committee members bit by bit steal his technology or it gets sold abroad.
Bukso had been a professor, a scientist, a lecturer, but was fired after his numerous battles over his inventions. He invites Lopatkin to come live with him to save money. But above all he advises Lopatkin to live--do gymnastics, go to the theater, find friends, a girlfriend. Friends will keep him from becoming hard, they will allow him to rest and restore himself.
4. Lopatkin comes to live with Busko. As the months pass, Lopatkin regularly receives rejection notices from Ministries and committees. The neighbors show interest, but Busko reminds Lopatkin that such women would never marry a penniless genius--they need material wealth.
"The older one gets, the less disappointment one suffers because one loses the habit of hoping."
Lopatkin sees hope in their work, but Busko says he has given up the habit of hoping.
Every day, Lopatkin begins with exercise and takes a walk at noon. During one walk, he imagines himself talking to Drozhdov, saying, "What sort of genius am I? I am just a plain fellow, like that peasant in Dostoevsky's Adolescent who got the better of the foreigners. The one who said: `That 's just the point, that it is simple and that you, you ass, didn't know it!'" Then Lopatkin thinks with indignation, "What have I lived to see! A Russian threatening you with a terrible danger: that you might become a genius in your own country! Buy you must on no account be a river; you must be nothing more than a mere drop."
Literary Reference Alert!
Read a very short summary of:
The Raw Youth
Busko compares an inventor or discoverer to a person who climbs higher up, to the second floor of a building and sees the world from a different perspective. Lopatkin wistfully recalls Jeanne, thinking that she is a "first-floor" person, not a dreamer, not a romantic. Busko says first-floor psychology is a great evil and that foreign intelligence is taking advantage of it, because the "first-floor crowd" doesn't guard valuable ideas, it guards only its handsome popularizing booklets.
The two make money through the summer unloading cargo in a train yard. Lopatkin works on the outline of a new universal machine for the casting of iron pipes of any shape up to a length of 18 feet. One day, when Lopatkin is out, a woman calls, asking for him. She does not stay to wait. No one knows who she was.
5. In autumn, Lopatkin and Busko run out of money and switch to the inventors' diet--bread and fish oil. Then, mysteriously, they receive anonymous gifts of potatoes.
Recalling their first meeting, Busko says, "We came together because I liked you. That was all. I like visionaries who live not by bread alone." Busko says he used wrong tactics in his battles, and that it is best to fight in a clandestine fashion. Lopatkin disagrees and says that one must go into battle openly.
Lopatkin says he does not believe in vulgar Communism, expecting only to fill the belly and get new material possessions. He says, in true Communism, many items of crazy luxury will be abolished. Communism, he says, is not a construction thought out by philosophers, but a force which existed for a long time. It is the force which compels him to work harder than ever before, sacrificing everything else, because he knows his machine is needed. Busko remains pessimistic.
COMMUNISM, LOPATKIN-STYLE"I never did believe in vulgar Communism. Those who think that under Communism everyone will strut around in cloth-of-gold are mistaken. The petty bourgeois whose heart is in the good things of life expects from Communism merely the filling of his belly. But in true Communism, many objects of crazy luxury, born out of the idleness of the rich, will be abolished.
When I realized the significance of this machine and understood that it was needed and that for its sake I should have to draw in my belt, I did not hesitate for an instant, but jumped gladly into this cold water. Then I suddenly understood that Communism is not a construction thought out by the philosophers, but a force which has existed for a long time and which is covertly training cadres for a future society. This force has already entered me. How did I come to feel it? Like this! Never in my life have I worked as I am working now. I am working to capacity. Without ever looking back. I save time for no other purpose but for my work. Now about my needs. I could go and work in a factory now. I could earn 2,000, and buy a mountain of bacon as thick as my hand is broad. Or put my name down for a motorcar. Or money in a savings account. The account would grow and I would earn more and more. But I am not that sort; I have other needs; I want none of those things. I don't want that sort of happiness, the kind one sees in the movies: good food and plenty of it, a nice flat, a bedroom suite, lace petticoats....That is, of course, I would not refuse them. But if I had only those things I should not be happy. But if I get this job through to its conclusion, I shall be happy, even if I have no bedroom suite!"
On 18 Oct, around noon, while Lopatkin is out, a messenger brings a package for him. It contains 6,000 rubles and a note: "Comrade Lopatkin, this money is yours. You are entitled to make what use you wish of it." Busko is suspicious, thinking it comes from foreign agents and that they should get rid of it. Instead, Lopatkin buys himself a new suit of clothes and a new hat for Busko.
6. Lopatkin begins to attend concerts. He is particularly inspired by Chopin's 2nd Piano Concerto. In this music, "He saw the hero, buring like a comet in the dark sky...and a gigantic power of the spirit, who, at the cost of his own person, at the cost of his life, wished to blaze a path for multitudes of men. He also was thrilled by Rachmaninov's 2nd Concerto, wherein Lopatkin saw that "men are not born to accept humiliation, to lie and to betray, for the sake of rich food and a good time."
Loptakin is lonely. He remembers Jeanne and walks up to her on the street. She is startled and thrilled. They kiss. Jeanne suggests that they run off somewhere and just be teachers. Lopatkin lies and says that his machine is very near a break-through success, that he is off the next day to the Kuzbazz for factory tests. Jeanne is sad. They part.
In January, during intermission at a concert, Nadya walks up to Lopatkin. She has "blossomed". She has heard that Lopatkin has reduced his offensive. Lopatkin is reluctant to talk about his new machine because Nadya is married to the enemy. Nadya says she and Drozhdov have been estranged for two years. She tells Lopatkin that Drozhdov is supervising the design of a new machine by Uriupin and Maksiutento along with Fundator and Avdiyev. Nadya promises to get more information.
A week later, Nadya and Lopatkin meet at a music shop. She gives him a quick sketch of the new machine. Lopatkin recognizes it as Uriupin and Maksiutenko's design. The machine is currently being made in the Muzga factory.
7. Nadya's story: After moving to Moscow, Nadya became increasingly disgusted with Drozhdov's callousness. To hide her physical repugnance for him, she pretended to have back pains.
One day, Drozhdov tells her of Lopatkin's appearance in Moscow and of Lopatkin's defeat. Shutikov for some time now has been looking for a machine for centrifigal casting of pipes. He might have backed Lopatkin, but it would have been too much trouble to set him up with a separate design office, and it would have been impossible to hand the work over to the Institute, because Lopatkin was not willing to make compromises, he would not get along with Avdiyev. Then Maksiutenko and Uriupin show up with their design. They stole some from Lopatkin, added some from a foreign machine; also Maksiutenko was involved with Avdiyev's machine, so that loss can be written off as "research" on this new one.
Nadya says it's all very unfair to Lopatkin. Drozhdov says that to invent something is only one-tenth of the job. What is really needed is a good organizer. He says, "An idea, if it is a correct one...seeks out for itself a strong man who will make sure that it prospers. Ideas prefer marriages of convenience to love matches!...Ideas gladly break faith with their first lovers in favor of influential and energetic patrons."
In August, Maksiutenko and Uriupin come to the apartment to meet with Drozhdov about their design. Nadya is now furious over what has been done to Lopatkin and says she is no longer Drozhdov's wife. At the end of August she sees Lopatkin on the street and follows him to Busko's home. She is the mysterious woman who called one day when Lopatkin was out. She decides she must help Lopatkin somehow. Six weeks later, Mrs. Ganichev visits, sees Nadya's fur coat and offers to buy it. Nadya sells it and that is where the 6,000 rubles came from.
8. Nadya begins spending time with Lopatkin and Busko, bringing little necessary items--a tablecloth, a sugar bowl, a shirt and tie for Lopatkin. She brings her typewritter and handles Lopatkin's correspondence.
In February, Lopatkin is summoned to the prosecutor's office. Avdiyev, Fundator and others have filed a complaint against him for libel. They call him a "dangerous calumniator", "sham inventor" and "blackmailer". Lopatkin pointedly asks how many people have been prosecuted for supression of technical invention. He explains to the prosecutor that it is ridiculous to label him an "enemy" because of a difference over a technical matter. The "monopoly", he says, does not allow any leaps forward and they strike at everyone who thinks differently. Their aim is to stay put in their easy chairs and go on getting richer. The prosecutor has him write an explaination. When Lopatkin leaves the prossecutor's office, a worried Nadya is waiting for him.
That evening, Nadya writes to Valentina Pavlovna, telling her that she has fallen in love with Lopatkin but that, as with Valentina, he will only allow friendship.
9. One evening when Drozhdov is out, Nadya invites Lopatkin and Busko over for tea. They talk of inner and outer beauty. Nadya plays the second movement of Chopin's 2nd Concerto on the piano. Both she and Lopatkin are moved by it. Busko finds Balzac's Lost Illusions among Nadya's books and reads from it: "Not all inventors possess the grip of a bulldog, which will die before it lets go what it has once got its teeth into"
Be like Nadya.
Recall the words of
"The song of the nightingale
cannot prevail over the roaring
of the sea."
Lopatkin plays with Nadya's young son, Nikolashka. Nadya reveals that Dorzhdov has gone to Muzga to supervise the building of Uriupin and Maksiutenko's machine.
In mid-March, Lopatkin finishes the design of his new machine. The next day is Lopatkin's birthday. Nadya gives him a present of a briefcase. She and the two inventors have a little celebration. Busko claims he has an important appointment he forgot about and leaves Nadya and Lopatkin alone. They spend the night together. (Nudge-nudge, wink-wink).
The next day, Lopatkin is troubled and torn. He feels he has betrayed Jeanne and is uncertain of his feelings for Nadya. He tensely tells Nadya that they can't carry on with this personal "business". In sorrow, Nadya feels as if she has just changed into Lopatkin's mother. And she is ready to be a completely different person for Lopatkin if need be.
1. Lopatkin has been working on his inventions for six years now and a third of his hair is grey. He takes his new machine around to various offices and gets the usual rejections. One day, leaving a building he bumps into Drozhdov's former secretary, who is wearing a Komsomol badge. She now works for the Minister. She looks at him thoughtfully for a moment, then invites him back upstairs and tells him to write an explanation.
A few days later, Lopatkin is summoned to a meeting with the Minister Afanasy Terentievich Diadiura. Also present are Shutikov and Drozhdov. The Minister likes Lopatkin's idea. Shutikov unctuously says that Lopatkin should have brought the new machine to him and he would have gladly helped get it through the institutions. The Minister says they should seek an expert opinion. Drozhdov suggests Avdieyev, but the Minister says that Florinsky, Avdiyev's rival, should also be consulted.
Afterwards, Shutikov tells Lopatkin that the pipe experts have built themselves a Scythian fortress and now live according to Malthus, limited fresh births. Shutikov needs these scientists and wants to placate them, so he himself has stepped in to check Lopatkin's progress from time to time. He says Lopatkin is like a salmon which has worked its way upstream (to the Minister) despite the strong current of the river. If Lopatkin gives up, Shutikov says he'll give him a cushy job--make him head of a department at the Institute.
Be like Shutikov!
Get Mired in Antiquity.
Over the next two weeks Vadia Nevraev, an engineer in the Minister's office, helps Lopatkin get ready for the review. The two men become friends. At the official review, Avdiyev says he still has some questions about Lopatkin's machine, but concedes that it might be prudent to proceed with an experimental prototype. However, he maintains, Maksiutenko and Uriupin's machine will probably prove more successful. Florinsky endorses Lopatkin's machine wholeheartedly. A resolution is passed to proceed with production of the prototype.
2. Two of the Institute's best designers--Antonovich and Krekhov--are assigned to Lopatkin. Work proceeds honestly and successfully. Loptakin is suspicious of Shutikov's intentions, but all the designers seem to be earnestly working to help Lopatkin. They are impressed with how Lopatkin reached the Minister and got everyone, including Avdiyev, to change their minds about his project. Krekhov asks Lopatkin how he did it, because the Institute is filled with would-be inventors who were unable to break through.
One day, Loptakin runs into Galitsky on the street. Loptakin updates Galitsky on his progress. Galitsky tells Lopatkin that, despite appearances, some unpleasantness is obviously being planned. Galitsky tells Lopatkin to keep him informed.
In late July, Lopatkin gets to a call to come to the Ministry. Maksiutenko and Uriupin's machine has successfully cast pipes! Lopatkin can see that too much cast iron had been used in making the pipes and that they had been water-cooled, which will make them prone to breakage during transit and storage. And Loptakin's machine would produce more pipes quicker and could also be used for the casting of water pipes. The Minister orders work on Lopatkin's machine stopped. A triumphant Shutikov renews his offer to get Lopatkin a cushy job. Loptakin nonetheless files a protest with the Minister. He returns home depressed and considers just giving it all up and going away somewhere to the provinces.
3. Loptakin tries to see the Minister, but is kicked out and told not to come back. He goes home and cries. He is ready to give up. Nadya comforts him, then gives him a surprise--a summary of an German technical article about pipes of two layers; the outer layer is of plain steel, but the inner layer is acidproof, for the chemical industry. Nadya realizes that Loptakin's machine can be modified to do this, which Russian industry still hasn't accomplished. Loptakin is excited and says that now Nadya is his partner. He decides to call Galitsky, but finds out that Galitsky has been transfered somewhere unknown.
Loptakin returns for his final few days of work at the Institute. He seems untroubled because, as he says, he has a new idea. The designers are sympathetic but think Lopatkin's a little off his rocker. Unexpectedly, he receives a call on behalf of Galitsky, summoning him to a different Ministry.
At the new Ministry, a general asks Lopatkin if his machine can be modified to make hollow rotary bodies in different shapes: a cigar, an acore, a cone, and a pipe with a diameter that increased stepwise. Loptakin says yes. The general says Loptakin will continue to work out of the same Institute with the same team--but Shutikov, Drozhdov, and Avdiyev are not to informed. Lopatkin's orders will come from a Vladimir Ivanovich Zakharov. Lopatkin informs the general of his double-layer pipe idea. For security reasons, Lopatkin is told to let this new Ministry handle the application to the Inventions Office. It is also decided that the double-layer pipe idea will get priority over the other assignment. Lopatkin says that Nadya is his partner, and they include her name on the order. They also tell Lopatkin that Galitsky is in the Urals.
The next day at the Institute, Lopatkin is visited by Nevraev. He confesses that it was he who wrote Shutikov's article "Open the gates wider to inventors". He mysteriously says he has come to remonstrate Lopatkin for giving up working for the public good and withdrawing from collective proceedings." Lopatkin is puzzled. Nevraev tries to coax him out of the office and away from the telephone. But Lopatkin stays. "Remember I warned you", Nevraev says as he leaves.
"It is dangerous for you to sit by the telephone just now. You might be killed suddenly, finished off by an unexpected piece of news."
The next day the Director of the Institute tells Lopatkin, Krekhov and Antonovich that they are being entrusted with some secret work.
4. Work continues successfully on Lopatkin and Nadya's secret machine. Shutikov and Avidiyev come snooping around, but are forced to retreat because of the work's secret classification. Nadya, as co-inventor, shows up in the institute from time to time to sign her name to the drawings, even though she doesn't completely understand them.
One day, Maksiutenko and Uriupin, after a holiday in the Caucasus, burst in for a visit. They are surprised to see Nadya there, signing her name to a sketch.
Krekhov works honestly and comes up with good suggestions.
One day in October, Lopatkin sees Nevraev on the street, but he refuses to talk with Lopatkin. Two days earlier, Drozhdov had forwarded to Shutikov a denunciation written by Maksiutenko and Uriupin, in which they accuse Lopatkin of giving Nadya--who is obviously not an engineer--access to information on a secret project. Shutikov happily passes the denunciation on to the Minister, Diadiura. On October 23, a soldier from the Military Prosecutor's Office delivers an envelope for Lopatkin
5. A military prosecutor, Capitan Abrosimov, reviews Lopatkin's case. He is worried by a testimonial written by Fundator, Tepikin, and other distinguished scientists, all condemning Loptakin as a sham inventor whose machine is a worthless invention. This complicates matters because basically the scientists are saying there was no secret involved with Lopatkin's work. Abrosimov and his chief decide to exclude this document from the case file. Abrosimov decides that the key to this case is: Cherchez la femme.
Abrosimov questions Lopatkin, who tells the long story of his invention and how he came to be involved in secret work. He does not mention Nadya. When Abrosimov asks about her, Lopatkin says she's his co-inventor. Abrosimov asks if Lopatkin and Nadya have had sex. Lopatkin lies and says, "No".
Lopatkin is placed under arrest.
6. Nadya is also summoned for questioning. Drozhdov is in a good humor. Loptakin's arrest will solve the most unpleasant problems of his personal and public life.
The next day, Nadya is questioned. When asked if she is Lopatkin's co-inventor, she decides to defend him to the utmost and says, no, the ideas were all his and that she has no special training in this area. Abrosimov then asks if they were physically intimate. Nadya blushes and says, yes. From Abrosimov's reaction she realizes with horror that she had just sealed Lopatkin's fate. Nadya asks if Lopatkin has been arrested and if so, why. Abrosimov confirms Lopatkin's arrest, but won't tell Nadya the reason.
7. Lopatkin's trial is held on 1 November 1947. He says he doesn't need a defense lawyer. There are three judges: an old lieutenant colonel acting as the Chairman, a stout captain, and a young major named Badyin. Lopatkin pleads not guilty and says Nadya knew the details of the secret machine before it was put on the secret list. Loptakin wants to know what secret he is accused of revealing. The Chairman says that is beyond the competence of this court precisely because it is secret. Loptakin wants the General who ordered his secret work called as a witness, but the court refuses, saying the General and others were misled by Lopatkin. Loptakin points out that his accusers are the same people who thwarted his machine for six years. The Chairman says that is irrelevant.
"The projecting of my machine was begun precisely because it was decided to do without experts; for once the princes of science were by-passed. They were by-passed and the result is a criminal prosecution against me."
Maksiutenko testifies to seeing Nadya in the secret area and to the fact that Loptakin always worked without a partner. Nadya then is called in and confirms her answers to Abrosimov, that Lopatkin is the sole inventor. Lopatkin is allowed to question Nadya. He asks if she knows where all his non-secret drawings and corresondence are and if she knows that if he is condemned they all must be saved. She nods, understanding.
Badyin asks if Nadya helped Lopatkin in any way. She says she went to the library and read foreign technical literature. She admits giving Lopatkin the 6,000 rubles. Loptakin says that without Nadya there would have been no secret invention. The Chairman declares Lopatkin out of order.
The judges adjourn to consider the verdict. The Chairman says Lopatkin is clearly guilty of revealing secret information. As the law says, "There is no need even of actual disclosure. A genuine possibility of the secret becoming known to another person is sufficient." Badyin says that the idea of the double-layer pipes was obviously Nadya's. It might have been proven by examining Zakharov from the other Ministry, old Busko, and the request slip for technical literature at the library.
Badyin says if they convict Lopatkin, they will be denying the State use of a good inventor. The Chairman says if Lopatkin had been a real inventor, the scientists would have all supported him, not accused him of libel. Ministers and scientific public opinion as a whole is expecting a conviction, the Chairman says, so they must deal with this matter quickly. Badyin says the interests and motivations of these ministers and scientists must be examined first before they can decide. "I cannot be a blind instrument," says Badyin, and he announces that he will write a dissenting opinion.
"A state official is not the state, and a scientific big shot, or even three scientific big shots, are not science. A judge must verify everything; it is his duty."
Sentence is pronounced. Loptakin is guilty and gets eight years in a prison camp. Lopatkin reacts calmly.
8. Nadya went to the Institute for the drawings and corresondence, which Lopatkin had stored in the safe there. The director tells her the safe has been sealed and will only be opened by a special commission. But even then, she cannot have the documents because they are state secrets.
Nadya sees Krekhov and tells him about the papers. But he cannot help her.
The Chairman who presided over Lopatkin's trial calls the Director. He says Nadya can have all the papers not marked "Secret". The important secret documents are to be preserved, and the rest burned. The Director tells Uriupin to create a commission to examine the documents. Avdiyev is included on the commission. Uriupin rejects Krekhov as having been friendly to Lopatkin. Antonovich, Maksiutenko, and Nevraev are also put on the commission. They open the safe and make a report. All important technical documents are preserved. The rest of the documents are of no interest but must be destroyed because they are secret.
Maksiutenko and Antonovich take the two sacks of documents down to the boiler room. Antonovich is very displeased to be involved in this affair. Maksiutenko starts handing books to the stokers to toss into the fire, including a copy of Lagrange's Analytical Mechanics. An ember jumps out of the furnace and burns Maksiutenko's nice new pants. The stokers in the furnace room are sad to hear about Lopatkin's fate; they liked him--he had helped them once fix a radiator problem.
"Books don't burn well unless you rip them to shreds first."
Uriupin comes, gloating. He angrily rebukes a stoker who was looking at a suppposedly "secret" paper. The stoker says it wasn't marked secret and it had some "pretty hot stuff" on it about Uruipin himself.
As soon as all the papers are burned, Uriuipin is urgently summoned to the Director's office. The Director has just received an official request from Nadya for the non-secret correspondence and drawings. The request has been approved by Loptakin's tribunal. Uriupin says everything's been burned and asks the Director what to do. The Director says, "I know nothing. I have not had a report yet." He says the situation is Uriupin's responsibility and that Uriupin must make the reply.
Uriupin sees that the Director is frightened. He plans to respond that there were no non-secret papers or drawings.
1. A year and a half later, Loptakin is forgotten. Newspapers publish articles by Shutikov and Drozdov (really written by Nevraev), hailing a victory for Soviet technology in the new centrifugal pipe casting machine. Shutikov's name begins to appear on long lists of those present at ceremonical receptions. Shutikov takes a trip abroad to study foreign technology.
In June 1951 some nameless clerk in an office notices an overconsumption of cast iron. The standard for pipes is 64 pounds; the pipes coming out of the new machines weigh 68 pounds. The total overexpenditure of cast iron is around 60,000 tons.
Shutikov calls a conference with Avdiyev, Uriupin and Drozhdov (who has since divorced Nadya). Avdiyev says soon they'll come up with a faster, more economical machine. In the meantime, they decide to send a request to the Committee on Standards to change the standard on pipes to 68 pounds. Figuring that they have thus solved the problem, they hurry off to the football match between Dynamo and Spartak.
The Regime Teams.
Pick your Favorite
Afterwards, Shutikov drives back with Avdiyev and Tepikin. On Gorky Street they almost have an accident because of a pedestrian. Shutikov looks back in shock and says it was Lopatkin. The others convince Shutikov that it only looked like Lopatkin. Nevertheless, they all become thoughtful. Shutikov tells Avdiyev and Tepikin to come up with a better pipe machine fast and to use Lopatkin's stuff if it makes sense.
With relief, Shutikov remembers that all of Lopatkin's personal papers were burned.
2. The pedestrian Shutikov saw was in fact Loptakin. He had been released two weeks earlier and his conviction overturned. He first of all went to see Busko, but Busko's house had burned down. A passer-by tells him that the fire was caused by some old professor experimenting with fire. He then goes to see Nadya, who embraces him and smothers him with kisses. In Nadya's apartment is Loptakin's drawing table, which Busko saved from the fire. After the fire, Busko came to live with Nadya, but he was too disheartened to resume his experiments. After about a year, he died. Nadya also gives Lopatkin Jeanne's photograph, which she saved after his arrest. Lopatkin glances at it absent-mindedly, then puts it down.
Nadya tells Lopatking that his machine has been made and is working at Galitsky's factory in the Urals and that two more are going to be made. Immediately after Lopatkin's conviction, Galitsky showed up at Nadya's. He then called Krekhov and Antonovich, who began working nights at Nadya's to recreate the drawings which had been burned. The machine was built and is a great success.
Loptakin says that in prison, where he was working as a welder on a bridge construction, he was strangely free to think and come up with new ideas, without the annoyance of correspondence, accusations, etc.
"The words `deprivation of liberty' are inaccurate. Whoever has learned to think cannot be completely deprived of liberty."
Nadya has more good news. While Maksiutenko was burning Loptakin's papers, Antonovich secretely dropped the folder with the correspondence into the coal bin. The folder is found by Afonchev, an old stoker. Antonovich pleads with him, and Afonchev decides to return the folder to the tribunal. The tribunal sees that the papers are not marked "secret", so Uruipin's claim that there were no such papers is false and the Director of the Institute is reprimanded. The papers are given to Nadya. Badyin gets involved and looks over the correspondence. The letters are forward to the Supreme Court, and Lopatkin's case dismissed.
Lopatkin goes to see Zakharov, who gives him a new contract and a generous salary. He is told to go to Galitsky's factory in the Urals. Before leaving, Lopatking recalls the words of Busko, "Human beings consist of two parts: the physical shell , which disappears, and the work of creation which can live on forever."
3. In the Urals, Galitsky takes Lopatkin to see his machine in action. It works wonderfully. Only one worker is required to manage it and it spits out pipes twice as fast the Institute's machine. Galitsky gaily says they'll write an article about it and publish comparative figures. Lopatkin says as long as the machine is working, he's no longer interested in fighting Avdiyev and the others.
"A genuine Party man cannot tolerate injustice. He can sense it, however carefully it is hidden. And he cannot tolerate it!"
Galitsky takes Lopatkin to stay with him, his wife Nina and their five children. Galitsky praises Badyin and Antonovich. He says Avdiyev and the others are a monopoly with no understanding of what a "collective" really is. He is glad Lopatkin came along, because it gives Galitsky the chance to free the institute from these "pirates." Loptakin refers to Avdiyev, Shutikov and the others as residents of "The Invisible City of Kitezh."
Be an Obscurantist
Live in the:
Invisible City of Kitezh
4. Shutikov happily signs the recommendation from Avdiyev and the Institute to change the pipe weight standard. He sends the recommendatioin on to the registry.
Nevraev requests permission to resign for health reasons. Shutikov lets him go.
Avdiyev phones and urgently tells Shutikov not to send on the request for the new pipe weight standard. Avdiyev has heard that Lopatkin is back and has a machine working somewhere. Shutikov manages to get back the request.
When Drozhdov learns of Lopatkin's return and about the fact that his correspondence has survived and is in the hands of the prosecutor, he appoints some minor underlings to a commission to go over the relevant papers and find out who is to blame for the red tape which prevented Lopatkin's machine from going forward. Furthermore, Drozhdov is shocked--shocked--to find out that Uriupin, Maksiutenko, and the Institute cooked up a scheme to change the pipe standard so as to hide the defect in their machine.
Twenty days later, a Ministry order comes down. Avdiyev gets off lightly. After all, he had only twice officially expressed an opinion on Lopatkin's machine--once equivocal and once positive. Drozhdov and Shutikov were only referred to obliquely as Ministry officials who were misled. The paragraph detailing the extent of the overexpenditure of cast iron was deleted by the Minister himself. Maksiutenko and Uriupin are dismissed from their posts. Fundator and Tepikin, guilty of giving dishonest expert opinions, are called on to make an explanation.
The order ends with a paragraph calling for energetic work to aid "the furtherance and adoption of valuable suggestions made by inventors and rationalizers." This text was merely copied from a different order issued two or three years ago.
5. In September, Lopatkin returns to Moscow for a conference to plan for creation of a designing office for the projecting of centrifugal machines to service a whole host of industries. During an interval, the second deputy minister approaches Loptakin. He says that Shutikov has been transfered to a different ministry and suggests that Lopatkin should return and work under the auspices of the Ministry, along with Krekhov and Antonovich. Loptakin declines the offer.
Loptakin calls on Jeanne, who is surprised to see him. Devyatov, now a major, is also there, but he leaves for a meeting. Jeanne expectantly waits for some declaration from Lopatkin, the story of his success (he's wearing nice clothes now). But Lopatkin hesitates. Jeanne has graduated and will soon be leaving for Kemerovo to work at a chemical and coke factory. Devyatov could arrange for her to stay in Moscow if she wants. Her mother gave her a mink coat as a present (yes, the very coat Mrs. Ganichev bought from Nadya). Jeanne wants to hear of Lopatkin's plans and dreams, but he can bring himself to say nothing significant. On the verge of tears, Jeanne shoves Lopatkin out the door. He feels her resistance is weak and that he should shove his way back in, but he doesn't.
Follow Jeanne To:
Loptakin goes to Nadya's to report on the success of the plans for the designing office. He also tells her of his visit to Jeanne, the only result of which was that he muddied up her plans for the future.
6. Jeanne, wearing Nadya's old fur coat (she, of course doesn't know that it was Nadya's), comes to Nadya's asking to see Loptakin, who is out. Jeanne, introducing herself as Anya (it's more Russian, you know), says she wants to work with Lopatkin. Nadya tells Jeanne how well Lopatkin's affairs are now going and that he had some true friends who helped him in his darkest hours, especially one unnamed woman. Jeanne assumes that woman is Nadya, but Nadya denies it and shows her a letter to Loptakin from Valentina. In the letter, Valentina declines Loptakin's offer of employment because of her love for him and the fact that he does not return that love. Valentina also aludes to another woman who "no doubt loves you more dearly than I do." Nadya says it refers to Jeanne.
Nadya tells Lopatkin about Jeanne's visit. She says Jeanne is obviously in love with Lopatkin and he ought to fix her up with a job. So Lopatkin goes back to Jeanne's and offers her a job. She tells him to come back in three days and she'll give him her answer. That's the day of Academinisian Sarotovtsev's 80-birthday jubilee celebration. Loptakin says he'll come at 7:30, pick up Jeanne and take her to the party.
Three days later, when Lopatkin arrives at Jeanne's, he finds that she has just left for the train station to go to Kemerovo. She left a note for him, saying she must leave because Nadya loves him more and sacrificed more for him, too.
Lopatkin goes to the celebration. Drozhdov, Nevraev, Shutikov and the whole gang of cronies are there. During one of the speeches, a not-too-happy Devyatov shows up and says "Anya" wants to see Lopatkin at the train station before her train leaves in 25 minutes. Devyatov has a car waiting, but Lopatkin says he'll take a taxi. But then Lopatkin decides not to go. He returns to the celebration and joins Nadya in the hall. He shows her Jeanne's letter then asks Nadya to marry him. She says that she demands nothing from him and "Am I not your wife as it is?"
At that moment, on stage, Sarotovtsev is presented with a gift from a distant factory director who is obviously not aware of recent developments: a model of Uriupin and Maksiutenko's machine! Sarotovtsev and the other cronies try to disguise their dismay. No one else in the audience knows the truth about the machine--only Lopatkin and the citizens of the "invisible empire of bureaucracy". Lopatkin knows that if he were to shout the truth out, no one would believe him. So his victory was for himself only; he was unable to dispell the fog and reveal the invisible empire.
7. At the banquet afterwards, Drozhdov is pacing, having just learned that he is to replace Shutikov as Deputy Minister. Loptakin talks with Krekhov, Antonovich and some younger engineers. They say that Galitsky has refused a medal, saying that he was merely doing his duty.
"Earlier, in his fighting days, he had been, if not happier, at least younger. And today, looking round him from the position of rest he had attained, he suddenly felt that he loved the old endless, austere road, with its milestones--a road along which he had unfortunately already traveled; it lay behind him."
Shutikov, Fundator, Tepikin, and other members of the invisible empire jokingly drink a toast to Lopatkin as the "salmon". Tepikin says that despite his success, Lopatkin is selfish, a lone wolf. Nonetheless, Tepikin says the collective is always ready to take Lopatkin in under its protection; that Lopatkin should buy a car, a dacha, or a television set. Loptakin says instead he will continue to fight them. "Man lives not by bread alone, if he is honest," Lopatkin says.
Tepikin predicts that someday Loptakin, too, will steal some younger engineer's idea and present it as his own. He will tie up the public interrests with personal interests. This elicts knowing chuckles from the invisible empire. Loptakin responds, "Unfortunately, it is impossible to offend you....You disgrace yourself abominably and never feel it."
Loptakin recalls his infantry training and says that previously he was involved in single combat. Now a whole section is in action.
Avdiyev approaches as if to embrace Lopatkin, but Nevraev steps in between, shaking a finger at Avdiyev and singing, "And secretly and maliciously, my hands grope for a weapon." Everyone assumes this bodes ill for Avdiyev. Lopatkin knows that he still has a long road ahead of him.
"And although Loptakin's machine was already made and delivered, he again suddenly saw before him the road that lost itself in the distance, the road that certainly had no end. This road awaited him, stretched in front of him, luring him on with its mysterious curves and with its stern responsibility."
Dudintsev, Vladimir Dmitrievich Born on 29 July 1918 in Kupyansk, Kharkov oblast, Ukraine. Graduated from the Moscow Law Institute. Fought as a soldier in World War II; was wounded and demobilized and served out the rest of the war working in the military prosecutor's office in Siberia. His first work was published in 1933. . . . (...Continued...)