Asked • 04/18/19

A strange-seeming construction in Tolstoj?

In «Так что же нам делать?», Lev Nikolaevich wrote «Я сижу на шее у человека, задавил его и требую, чтобы он вез меня, и, не слезая с него, уверяю себя и других, что я очень жалею и хочу облегчить его положение всеми возможными средствами, но только не тем, чтобы слезть с него.»Normally Russian and English grammars agree completely, such that it's possible to translate using the same construction. But here I'm baffled. He switches from simple present to simple past and then back again (сижу...задавил...уверяю). Translating directly into English, the construction doesn't work: "I sit on a person's neck, crushed him and demand, that he carry me..." I'd expect him to have written «сижу на шее у человекa, давя его, и требую...», which of course in English would be "I sit on a person's neck, crushing him, and demand that he carry me...".Could someone explain? If we were ever taught how to deal with such constructions, the intervening 50+ years have wiped out the memory.

3 Answers By Expert Tutors


Mark Z. answered • 04/20/19

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Stanislav G. answered • 04/18/19

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Experienced Russian teacher with 5+ years of Teaching Experience

Lidia G. answered • 04/18/19

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M.Ed. in Education, Russian native speaker tutor

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