Introduction

‘Strange as it may seem to you, in my opinion a great deal of harm to contemporary literature has been brought about by grammars, namely, the grammars of the languages of all the peoples who take part in what I call the “common malphonic concert” of contemporary civilization.

‘The grammars of their different languages are, in most cases, constructed artificially, and have been composed and continue to be altered chiefly by a category of people who, in respect of understanding real life and the language evolved from it for mutual relations, are quite “illiterate”.

‘On the other hand, among all the peoples of past epochs, as ancient history very definitely shows us, grammar was always formed gradually by life itself, according to the different stages of their development, the climatic conditions of their chief place of existence and the predominant means of obtaining food.

‘In present-day civilization the grammars of certain languages so greatly distort the meaning of what the writer wishes to transmit, that the reader, especially if he is a foreigner, is deprived of the last possibility of grasping even the few minute thoughts which, if expressed differently, that is, without this grammar, might perhaps still be understood.

‘In order to make clearer what I have just said,’ this elderly, intelligent Persian continued, ‘I will give as an example an episode which took place in my own life.

‘As you know, of all the persons near to me by blood, the only one still living is my nephew on the paternal side, who a few years ago, having inherited an oil well situated in the environs of Baku, was obliged to move there.

‘And so I go from time to time to that town, because my nephew, being always very occupied with his numerous commercial affairs, is seldom able to leave and visit me, his old uncle, here at our birthplace.

‘The district where these oil wells are located, and also the town of Baku, belong at the present time to Russia, which as one of the large nations of contemporary civilization produces an abundance of literature.

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