A Storyby Isaac Babel
In the winter of 1916 I found myself in Petersburg with forged papers and without a kopeck to my name. Aleksei Kazantsev, a teacher of Russian philology, gave me shelter.
He lived on a frozen, reeking, yellow street in Peski. To increase his meager income, he did Spanish translations—in those days the fame of Blasco Ibáñez was on the rise.
Kazantsev had never been to Spain, not even once, but his whole being was flooded with love for the country—he knew every Spanish castle, park, and river. Besides myself, a large number of men and women who had fallen through the cracks of life flocked to him. We lived in dire poverty. From time to time our pieces on current events appeared in small print in the popular press.
In the mornings I lounged about in morgues and police stations.