Kozma Prutkov

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Kozma Petrovich Prutkov (Russian: Козьма́ Петро́вич Прутко́в) is a collective pen name used by Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy and his cousins, three Zhemchuzhnikov brothers, Alexei, Vladimir and Alexander to publish satires, aphorisms, fables, epigrams, and humorous and nonsense verses during Nicholas I of Russia's authoritarian reign in the 1850s–1860s, most notably in the literary magazine "Sovremennik" (The Contemporary).


  • И устрица имеет врагов!
  • Идут славянофилы и нигилисты, У тех и у других ногти не чисты
    • Here come the Slavophiles and Nihilists, and none of them have clean fingernails.
    • A. K. Tolstoi, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii v dvukh tomakh [Complete Works in two volumes] (Leningrad, 1984), 1:386.


  • Many things are not well understood by us not because our concepts are weak, but because those things lay outside of our concepts
    • Многие вещи нам непонятны не потому, что наши понятия слабы; но потому, что сии вещи не входят в круг наших понятий
  • Throwing pebbles into the water, look at the ripples they form on the surface. Otherwise this activity will be an empty amusement.
  • Where is the beginning of the end that comes at the end of the beginning?
  • If you have a fountain, shut it down. Let even a fountain have a rest.
  • If you see a "buffalo" sign on an elephant's cage, do not trust your eyes.
  • If ever asked: What's more useful, the sun or the moon, respond: The moon. For the sun only shines during daytime, when it's light anyway, whereas the moon shines at night.
  • Nobody can take hold of limitless.
  • Beware!
  • When it concerns art, every tailor has views of his own.
  • Every expert is like a gumboil: his fullness is one-sided.
  • Not every general is stout by nature.
  • Snap a mare on the nose and she will flap her tail.
  • God placed death at the end of life to give us time to prepare for it.
  • If you want to be happy, be so.
  • If you want to be handsome, enroll in the Hussars.
  • Diligence overcomes everything!
  • Sometimes, diligence can overcome even the reason.
  • How pathetic is any constitution at sight of well-kept ammunition!
  • Don't tell jokes to the ladies, for these jokes are stupid and obscene.

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