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Satan's Diary


An Authorized Translation


Preface and translation by journalist, poet, novelist, playwright, translator, Jewish activist, and diplomat Herman Bernstein (1876-1935). Bernstein was born in 1876 in Vladislavov, at that time on the Russo-German border, which today is Lithuania, to David and Marie Bernstein. In 1893, he and his family emigrated to the United States, where he completed his education. He married Sophie Friedman on December 31, 1901. During his life he translated a number of important literary works from Russian to English.

Russia to-day is a lunatic asylum. The people who are hanged are not the people who should be hanged. Everywhere else honest people are at large and only criminals are in prison. In Russia the honest people are in prison and the criminals are at large. The Russian Government is composed of a band of criminals, and Nicholas II is not the greatest of them. There are still greater ones. I do not hold that the Russian Government alone is guilty of these horrors. The European nations and the Americans are just as much to blame, for they look on in silence while the most despicable crimes are committed. The murderer usually has at least courage, while he who looks on silently when murder is committed is a contemptible weakling. England and France, who have become so friendly to our Government, are surely watching with compassion the poor Shah, who hangs the constitutional leaders. Perhaps I do not know international law. Perhaps I am not speaking as a practical man. One nation must not interfere with the internal affairs of another nation. But why do they interfere with our movement for freedom? France helped the Russian Government in its war against the people by giving money to Russia. Germany also xv helped—secretly. In well-regulated countries each individual must behave decently. When a man murders, robs, dishonors women he is thrown into prison. But when the Russian Government is murdering helpless men and women and children the other Governments look on indifferently. And yet they speak of God. If this had happened in the Middle Ages a crusade would have been started by civilized peoples who would have marched to Russia to free the women and the children from the claws of the Government.”

Andreyev became silent. His wife kept rowing for some time slowly, without saying a word. We soon reached the shore and returned silently to the house. That was twelve years ago. I met him several times after that. The last time I visited him in Petrograd during the July riots in 1917.

In “Satan’s Diary” Andreyev summed up his boundless disillusionment in an absorbing satire on human life. Fearlessly and mercilessly he hurled the falsehoods and hypocrisies into the face of life. He portrayed Satan coming to this earth to amuse himself and play. Having assumed the form of an American multi-millionaire, Satan set out on a tour through Europe in quest of amusement and adventure. Before him passed various forms of spurious virtues, hypocrisies, the ruthless cruelty of man and the often deceptive innocence of woman. Within a short time Satan finds himself outwitted, deceived, relieved of his millions, mocked, humiliated, beaten by man in his own devilish devices.--from Bernstein's Preface

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