Introduction

‘One more example:

‘In a widely circulated German newspaper I read, from time to time, lofty panegyrics glorifying a certain painter, and owing to these articles I formed the opinion that in contemporary art this painter was simply a phenomenon.

‘My nephew, having just built a house in the town of Baku, had decided, in preparation for his wedding, to decorate the interior very richly. Since twice that year he had unexpectedly struck oil with signs of increasing output, which would assure him a considerable fortune, I advised him not to spare his money but to send for that famous painter to superintend the decoration of the house and to paint some frescoes on the walls. In this way his expenditures, already very great, would at least be of benefit to his posterity, who would inherit these frescoes and other works by the hand of this incomparable master.

‘And my nephew did so; he even went himself to invite this great European painter. And soon afterwards the painter arrived, bringing with him a whole train of assistants, artisans and even, it seemed to me, his own harem, of course in the European sense of the word; and without the slightest hurry he finally set to work.

‘The result of the work of this celebrity was that, firstly, the day of the wedding had to be postponed and, secondly, no little money had to be spent to bring everything back to its original state, so that simple Persian artisans might decorate, paint and embellish everything in a way more corresponding to genuine artistry.

‘In the present case—to give them their due—the reporters participated in building up the career of this mediocre painter almost disinterestedly, simply as comrades and modest side­line workers.
‘As a last example, I will tell you a sad story of misunderstanding, which was due this time to a “big shot” of this contemporary, especially pernicious literature.

‘One day, when I was living in the town of Khorasan, I met at the house of mutual acquaintances a young European couple and soon got to know them rather well.

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