Tag Archives: facial expression

Facial Expression

Christ by Ivan Turgenev

Translated by Isabel Hapgood

I saw myself as a youth, almost a little boy, in a low-ceiled country church. – Slender wax tapers burned like red spots in front of the ancient holy pictures.

An aureole of rainbow hues encircled each tiny flame. – It was dark and dim in the church…. But a mass of people stood in front of me.

All reddish, peasant heads. From time to time they would begin to surge, to fall, to rise again, like ripe ears of grain when the summer breeze flits across them in a slow wave.

Suddenly some man or other stepped from behind and took up his stand alongside me.

I did not turn toward him, but I immediately felt that that man was – Christ.

Emotion, curiosity, awe took possession of me simultaneously. I forced myself to look at my neighbour.

He had a face like that of everybody else, – a face similar to all human faces. His eyes gazed slightly upward, attentively and gently. His lips were closed, but not compressed; the upper lip seemed to rest upon the lower; his small beard was parted in the middle. His hands were clasped, and did not move. And his garments were like those of every one else.

“Christ, forsooth!” I thought to myself. “Such a simple, simple man! It cannot be!”

I turned away. – But before I had time to turn my eyes from that simple man it again seemed to me that it was Christ in person who was standing beside me.

Again I exerted an effort over myself…. And again I beheld the same face, resembling all human faces, the same ordinary, although unfamiliar, features.

And suddenly dread fell upon me, and I came to myself. Only then did I understand that precisely such a face – a face like all human faces – is the face of Christ.

December, 1878.

Facial Expression

The Sphinx By Ivan Turgenev

Translated from The Russian by Isabel Hapgood

Yellowish-grey, friable at the top, firm below, creaking sand … sand without end, no matter in which direction one gazes!

And above this sand, above this sea of dead dust, the huge head of the Egyptian Sphinx rears itself aloft.

What is it that those vast, protruding lips, those impassively dilated, up-turned nostrils, and those eyes, those long, half-sleepy, half-watchful eyes, beneath the double arch of the lofty brows, are trying to say?

For they are trying to say something! They even speak – but only Oedipus can solve the riddle and understand their mute speech.

Bah! Yes, I recognise those features … there is nothing Egyptian about the low white forehead, the prominent cheek-bones, the short, straight nose, the fine mouth with its white teeth, the soft moustache and curling beard, – and those small eyes set far apart … and on the head the cap of hair furrowed with a parting…. Why, it is thou, Karp, Sidor, Semyon, thou petty peasant of Yaroslavl, or of Ryazan, my fellow-countryman, the kernel of Russia! Is it long since thou didst become the Sphinx?

Or dost thou also wish to say something? Yes; and thou also art a Sphinx.

And thy eyes – those colourless but profound eyes – speak also…. And their speeches are equally dumb and enigmatic.

Only where is thine Oedipus?

Alas! ‘Tis not sufficient to don a cap to become thine Oedipus, O Sphinx of All the Russians!

December, 1878.

About Music and Facial Expression

“Do you enjoy music? But why should I ask? Who does not like music?”
Marusia began to play the best part of the waltz and turned with a smile. She had to read on the doctor’s face: does her playing impress him?
But she could not read anything. The doctor’s face was still impassive and dry. He quickly drunk his tea.
I am in love with this sample said Marusia.
And thank you,” said the doctor. I do not want to.
He made a last sip, rose and took up his hat, without having expressed the slightest desire to listen to the end of the waltz. (...) Marusia embarrassed, and offended, shut the piano.
Late-blooming Flowers by Anton Chekhov

Facial Expression

Indicators of the quality of life on the face:
“Baron Arthur von Zaynits, a 28-year-old man – no more, but he looks like he is more than thirty. His face is still beautiful, fresh, but on that face, around the eyes and in the corners of the mouth, you will find wrinkles that occur in people already undergoing affliction. Youth and its failures, joys, grief, drinking, debauchery travelled by forrow over his¬†beautiful swarthy face . In his eyes satiety, boredom lips curved in a submissive and at the same time mocking smile, which has become habitual …”
The Unnecessary Victory by Anton Chekhov

Facial Expression

“Nadia was standing leaning with her knee against the edge of the chair and holding her hand over the railing. Her eyes, languid, velvet, deep, stared into the dark green thicket… On her face, pale and moonlit, dark shadows – spots played. It was a blush. Ivan Gavrilovich was standing behind her, and nervously, with trembling hand pinched his thin beard. When he was tired of pinching his beard, he began to stroke and tug with his other hand his ugly jabot. Ivan Gavrilovich was ugly. He looked like his mother, resembling a village cook. His forehead was small, narrow, just flattened; his nose upturned, blunt, with a noticable notch instead of hump, his hair bristling. His eyes, small, narrow, precisely as a young kitten, looked questioningly at Nadia.”
Which of the Three? by Anton Chekhov

Your face is not only a gift of nature. You have sculpted your face for years. Experiences and emotions (often unnecessary) imprint their mark on the face.

Kittenish Face and Beauty

“Liza was so incredibly beautiful. It is true her little kittenish face with its brown eyes, and turn up nose was fresh, and even piquant, her scanty hair was black as soot and curly, her little figure was graceful, well proportioned and mobile as the body of an electric eel (…)…”

“Patches of red came out of her cheeks, her eyes swelled, and tears flowed down her kittenish face…”

“The kittenish face puckered up and began blinking its eyes as though expecting a slap.”
A Living Chattel by Anton Chekhov

Like a Cat

“(…) her face was suddenly distorted in a strange, unaccountable way. Her eyes stared at the lieutenant without blinking, her lips parted and showed clenched teeth. Her whole face, her throat, and even her bosom, seemed quivering with a spiteful, catlike expression. Still keeping her eyes fixed on her visitor, she rapidly bent to one side, and swiftly, like a cat, snatched something from the table.”
Mire by Anton Chekhov

Facial Expression, Nature and Capacity for Lying

“He (Pyotr Shiryaev) walked along the road and thought of death, of the grief of his family, of the moral sufferings of his father, (…).
Absorbed in his bitterness and such thoughts, young Shiryaev walked on and on. (…)
And he almost wept with depression and impatience.The solemn landscape, with its order and beauty, the deathlike stillness all around, revolted him and moved him to despair and hatred!

“Look out!” He heard behind him a loud voice.

An old lady of his acquaintance, a landowner of the neighbourhood, drove past him in a light, elegant landau. He bowed to her, and smiled all over his face. And at once he caught himself in that smile, which was so out of keeping with his gloomy mood. Where did it come from if his whole heart was full of vexation and misery? And he thought nature itself had given man this capacity for lying, that even in difficult moments of spiritual strain he might be able to hide the secrets of his nest as the fox and the wild duck do. Every family has its joys and its horrors, but however great they may be, it’s hard for an outsider’s eye to see them; they are a secret. The father of the old lady who had just driven by, for instance, had for some offence lain for half his lifetime under the ban of the wrath of Tsar Nicolas I.; her husband had been a gambler; of her four sons, not one had turned out well. One could imagine how many terrible scenes there must have been in her life, how many tears must have been shed. And yet the old lady seemed happy and satisfied, and she had answered his smile by smiling too. The student thought of his comrades, who did not like talking about their families; he thought of his mother, who almost always lied when she had to speak of her husband and children…”¬†
“Difficult People” by Anton Chekhov