He repeated his New York triumphs throughout the United States and also in Europe, when he visited Covent Garden for the first time in 1926, and reappeared at the Paris Opéra and at La Scala, Milan. Wherever he went, he was greeted like the Tsar; he once remarked that had Nicolas let him play the role there would have been no revolution. It was signiﬁcant that the same New York critics who now hailed him as the Tsar had previously dismissed him as a muzhik(4); in the intervening years a world war and the Russian Revolution had completely upturned the values of the Edwardian era; what had been thought unnecessarily crude and vulgar was now deemed noble and profoundly moving. No bass before or since has enjoyed such acclaim or such fees. He excused his rapacity to Raoul Gunsbourg, pleading that he was not stingy, only grasping (recounted by Gunsbourg in his memoirs). During these years he began another career as a recitalist, which was to occupy him increasingly in the remainder of his life. For Chaliapin the concert platform was an extension of the theater and his recitals were dramatic events. The New York Times reported:
It was difficult for me to realize that it wasBig Pete himself who had given vent to thatshuddering howl, and now the danger was overI pleaded with him to give another exhibitionof his skill in wolf calls.
Scarcely had the sound waves faded awaywhen in the mysterious distance came anotherand another answer, until it seemed as if atroop of lost souls were vocalizing theirmisery. I unslung my gun and loosened myrevolvers in their fringed holsters, but Big Peteonly shrugged his shoulders and said,
In the darkness I discovered another occupantof the piazza also rolled up in a blankettaken from a bed in the house. Feeling withmy hands I discovered that it was Big Pete.Comfortably settling myself in my blanket Ifelt the breeze from the mountain blowingover my face and through my hair, and itsoothed me until I dropped off into gentleslumber; but during the months I had beensleeping in the open I had learned the art, asthe saying is, of sleeping with one eye open.In this case, however, if the eye had reallybeen wide open it could have seen nothingbecause of the darkness, but the darknessdid not interfere with my ability to hear, andafter I had been sleeping awhile I foundmyself suddenly sitting bolt upright in myblankets with beads of perspiration on myforehead and that terrible sensation of horrorwhich one experiences in a nightmare. Iknew that I had heard something, but what
It was past lights-out in the children's dormitory, and many adults were already in bed, though lights were on here and there in the domiciles. The street was empty. The boys careened down it laughing and calling to one another, wild with the pleasure of sharing a secret, of disturbing others, of compounding wickednesses. They woke up half the children in the dormitory with games of tag down the halls and among the beds. No adult interfered; the tumult died down presently.
He had a ringing in his right ear for a couple of days, and a split lip that took long to heal because of the dust, which irritated all sores. He and Shevet never spoke again. He saw the man at a distance, at other cookflres, without animosity. Shevet had given him what he had to give, and he had accepted the gift. though for a long time he never weighed it or considered its nature. By the time he did so there was no distinguishing it from another gift, another epoch in his growing up. A girl, one who had recently joined his work gang, came up to him just as Shevet had in the darkness as he left the cookfire, and his lip wasn't healed yet...He never could remember what she said; she had teased him; again he responded simply. They went out into the plain in the night, and there she gave him the freedom of the flesh. That was her gift, and he accepted it Like all children of Anarres he had had sexual experience freely with both boys and girls, but he and they had been children; he had never got further than the pleasure he assumed was all there was to it Beshun, expert in delight, took him into the heart of sexuality, where there is no rancor and no ineptitude, where the two bodies striving to Join each other annihilate the moment in their striving, and transcend the self, and transcend time.
The westering sun shining in on his face woke Shevek as the dirigible, clearing the last high pass of the Ne Theras, turned due south. He had slept most of the day, the third of the long journey. The night of the farewell party was half a world behind him. He yawned and rubbed his eyes and shook his head, trying to shake the deep rumble of the dirigible engine out of his ears, and then came wide awake, realizing that the journey was nearly over, that they must be coming close to Abbenay. He pressed his face to the dusty window, and sure enough, down there between two low rusty ridges was a great walled field, the Port. He gazed eagerly, trying to see if there was a spaceship on the pad. Despicable as Urras was, still it was another world; he wanted to see a ship from another world, a voyager across the dry and terrible abyss, a thing made by alien hands. But there was no ship in the Port.
He was sketching out notes for a series of hypotheses which led to a coherent theory of Simultaneity. But that began to seem a petty goal; there was a much greater one, a unified theory of Time, to be reached, if he could jost get to it. He felt that he was in a locked room in the middle of a great open country: it was all around him, if he could find the way out, the way clear. The intuition became an obsession. During that autumn and winter he got more and more out of the habit of sleeping. A couple of hours at night and a couple more sometime during the day were enough for him, and such naps were not the kind of profound sleep he had always had before, but almost a waking on another level, they were so full of dreams. He dreamed vividly, and the dreams were part of his work. He saw time turn back upon itself, a river flowing upward to the spring. He held the contemporaneity of two moments in his left and right hands; as he moved them apart he smiled to see the moments separate like dividing soap bubbles. He got up and scribbled down, without really waking, the mathematical formula that had been eluding him for days. He saw space shrink in upon him like the walls of a collapsing sphere driving in and in towards a central void, closing, closing, and he woke with a scream for help locked in his throat, struggling in silence to escape from the knowledge of his own eternal emptiness.
There was a long break between terms in midautumn. Most students went home for the holiday. Shevek went mountain-hiking in the Meiteis for a few days with a group of students and researchers from the Light Research Laboratory, then returned to claim some hours on the big computer, which was kept very busy during term. But, sick of work that got nowhere, he did not work hard. He slept more than usual, walked, read, and told himself that the trouble was he had simply been in too much of a hurry; you couldn't get hold of a whole new world in a few months. The lawns and groves of the University were beautiful and disheveled, gold leaves flaring and blowing on the rainy wind under a soft grey sky. Shevek looked up the works of the great loti poets and read them; he understood them now when they spoke of flowers, and birds flying, and the colors of forests in autumn. That understanding came as a great pleasure to him. It was pleasant to return at dusk to his room, whose calm beauty of proportion never failed to satisfy him. He was used to that grace and comfort now, it had become familiar to him. So had the faces at Evening Commons, the colleagues, some liked more and some less but all, by now, familiar. So had the food, in all its variety and quantity, which at first had staggered him. The men who waited tables knew his wants and served him as he would have served himself. He still did not eat meat; he had tried it, out of politeness and to prove to himself that he had no irrational prejudices, but his stomach had its reasons which reason does not know, and rebelled. After a couple of near disasters he had given up the attempt and remained a vegetarian, though a hearty one. He enjoyed dinner very much. He had gained three or four kilos since coming to Urras; he looked very well now, sunburnt from his mountain expedition, rested by the holiday. He was striking figure as he got up from table in the great dining hall, with its beamed ceiling far overhead in shadow, and its paneled, portrait-hung walls, and its tables bright with candle flames and porcelain and silver. He greeted someone at another table and moved on, with an expression of peaceable detachment. From across the room Chifoilisk saw him, and followed him, catching up at the door.
During the next hour thirty or forty people came. At first Shevek felt cross, dissatisfied, and bored. It was Just another of the parties where everybody stood about with glasses in their hands smiling and talking loudly. But presently it became more entertaining. Discussions and arguments got going, people sat down to talk, it began to be like a party at home. Delicate little pastries and bits of meat and fish were passed around, glasses were constantly refilled by the attentive waiter. Shevek accepted a drink. He had watched Urrasti guzzling alcohol for months now, and none of them had seemed to fall ill from it. The stuff tasted like medicine, but somebody explained that it was mostly carbonated water, which he liked. He was thirsty, so he drank it right off.
It is our suffering that brings us together. It is not love. Love does not obey the mind, and turns to hate when forced. The bond that binds us is beyond choice. We are brothers. We are brothers in what we share. In pain, which each of us must suffer alone, in hunger, in poverty, in hope, we know our brotherhood. We know it, because we have had to learn it. We know that there is no help for us but from one another, that no hand will save us if we do not reach out our hand. And the hand that you reach out is empty, as mine is. You have nothing. You possess nothing. You own nothing. You are free. All you have is what you are, and what you give. 153554b96e