Yesterday I wrote down these lines, but at once I have sat to work and
in a few hours turned over all my former work. All that was vague there, all of
it may be concluded in such a simple way that one can't wish a better one [...]
I had already left Petersburg
and spent five days in Zhuravka before I intended to go on with my diary. My
heart seemed to get crusted over with a kind of bark, and I could not respond
to any approach. I came home in a very quiet state of mind, and only meeting
with my folk excited me a bit. I did not notice any change in the people there,
as if I had never left home. Though Mum had been ill before and therefore she seemed
to have grown old, but nevertheless she looked very cheerful.
I am ashamed to confess, but it is true. The bark, which encrusted my
heart, did not crack a little after my meeting with parents and brothers, though my love to them
is warm and deep [...]
During these days I have done a lot about the problems which I had been trying
to solve before. I had been doing my research supposing that comparisons should
be considered by a simple modulus; now I do not limit it at all. I do not think
the results will be of special interest, but the main thing is ─ I shall get
common results. In general I came to a conclusion that to make a serious step
on I must change my method [...]
August 6, Sunday.
Once more I am writing down my last visit to Krytsky [Krytsky lived in
the nearby village Bohdany; during summer vacations G.Voronoi visited Bohdany
quite often to see his beloved girl Olya Krytska, his future wife], once more I
operate myself: with pain in my heart I go to the cold and severe Petersburg
I am mounting the horse, once more saying good-buy to everybody and that
is the end to everything which filled my life during the four months and which
will cause me to behave stern and cool during
the whole stretch of the Petersburg
Only mathematics as a bright star is shining for me afore, in it I trust
all my hopes and in it I shall find " the comforting hangover ─ a short oblivion
of bitter pangs".
The experience of the last year has fortified my endurance, and my creative
eagerness, suppressed before, is bursting into action, and I am certain that Petersburg will bring me
much new in this respect.
So good-buy, Olya, good-buy, Zhuravka! till the new spring I shall cover
myself with my armour, and as if dreaming I shall see this summer, which gave me, besides so much
strength and health, some more grains of happiness, which I know I shall so
often experience, when reading in Petersburg my diary and picking them from
those talks with Olya that I put down and everything which so often made my
heart beat [...]
31, 1889, Peterhof.
is a suburb of Petersburg]
For long, for so long I have not
been writing my diary and could not: life pressed me too hard and required from
me too much, so sitting and writing meant to be wandering, it was rather
difficult. And I have experienced such a big lot!
Everything that I did not even dare to dream of came true: I passed the exams
having got all fives; I was kept at the University with the grant; in a word,
my future has already taken shape in a
great measure, but it happened at the last moment, before that I had only been
enduring. I had been enduring my pupil, who vexed me with his laziness, then I
came home, fell exhausted on the bed and thought: when will there be the end of
it? Alas! I had to get up and to swat, to swat on and on! [...]
If I add that at this time I had influenza, was without a copeck of money,
had nothing in prospect, but the awful private lesson, was living in a damp
cold room, which I remember now as a nightmare, it is strange indeed that I did
not collapse [...]
Passion for researching, for finding new properties and ratios of quantities
has been developed in me to inconceivable extent; I can hardly lay off my pen.
The most urgent things and obligations ─ everything steps to the background,
and I go on writing and writing. But I do not know how to explain it: so far I
have not touched any problem and only came to know many, many properties of
I often compare myself with an alchemist, because, like him, I have no guiding star and have only a passion.
And this passion has developed to such extent that I am losing my sleep as soon
as it seems to me I have touched anything of importance. But alas, so far after
a sleepless night I could see only that I had run against a solid wall and just
was nourishing my illusions.
I am not embarrassed by it at all, as I have already become firmly
confident that I can easily take a simpler problem and get some result ─ not an
essential one, only formal; but it does not tempt me, these laurels I have already
reaped and now can say like Themistocles: " Gauss' laurels keep me awake!"
This is a general outline of my present scientific disposition. Full
rest from swatting and scholarly
excursuses to various unexplored fields, from where I returned so far
Well, what about Olya?
I often think of her lately and quite vividly as never before, but five months
have meant something, and I do not care much about her. Though when I recall
her (or rather when she appears in my mind) I am feeling so well and warm. Yes,
the destiny of my life is only in Bohdany and it is my worldly motto for the
31, 1890, Peterhof.
True to the old custom, today, on the eve of the New year, I cast a
glance at the having been lived through and deeply felt Old year. The first
thing which I must gladly note and which has become a pledge of my future
happiness is: Olya loves me.
I know it now for certain! How happy I am! So long I had been silently
suffering from doubts, and at last it has been cleared out, and I have already become
Yes, now I know well that Olya loves me, but nevertheless lasting doubts
and expectations have brought some bitterness. I seem to have become hardened
in my permanent solitude. Ever growing passion for Mathematics has developed in
me egotism of no small degree. I am afraid I cannot feel strong and surrender
wholly to my feelings.
As for me the mind comes ahead always and everywhere. And the worldly wisdom,
known from books, is saying that mind and love are scarcely reconciled. That is
what makes me fear sometimes that Olya probably will not be happy with me. As
for me, I shall probably always take refuge in Mathematics.
Translated from Russian by
The Diary is kept at the Manuscript
Institute of the V.Vernadskii National Library of Ukraine