What’s Better?

A textile design by Varvara Stepanova, 1924.

(The Idle Meditations of Shtyck-Junker Krokodilov)

Both adults and children may go to pubs, but only children can go to school.

Alcohol relaxes the metabolism, aids fat deposits, gladdens a man’s heart. School isn’t capable of all that. Lomonosov said: “Science nourishes youth, glee to elders grants.” But Vladimir the Great often said: “Drinking is the joy of Rus.” Which of the two to believe? Surely the older one.

Tax revenues certainly don’t come from schools.

The uses of enlightenment haven’t been established, but the harm it brings is clear.

Rousing the appetite calls not for a diploma but for a shot of vodka.

There’s a pub everyplace, but schools are far from everywhere.

All this is sufficient to conclude: pubs shouldn’t be abolished, but schools merit reconsideration.

Literacy can’t be altogether dismissed. Such dismissal would be madness. A man ought to be able to read: PUBLIC HOUSE.

Translated from the Russian by Elina Alter. 

Alter is a writer and translator in New York. Look for her translations of Chekhov sketches each day this week on the Daily.

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