‘The Frenchman has no common sense and would indeed consider it the greatest misfortune to have it.’ Fonvizin wrote this sentence in the last century [18th], and, my God, what pleasure he must have taken in writing it! I bet his heart was tickled with delight when he composed it. And, who knows, perhaps all of us since Fonvizin, for three or four generations have read it not without certain relish. Even now wherever they are encountered, all sentences like this, cutting foreigners down to size, contain something irresitibly pleasant for us Russians. Only on a profoundly secret level, of course, sometimes secret even from ourselves.
I think it is feasible to replace “Russians” with every other nationality on earth, except of course the Humbles of Humbleton…they have no such problem.