Friday, January 29, 2016

the last book I ever read (The Door by Magda Szabó, excerpt five)

from The Door by Magda Szabó:

In the days leading up to the lecture we carried on as before. Emerence dusted the bookshelves, took delivery of the mail, listened whenever I spoke on the radio, but she passed no comment, she wasn’t interested. She took note when we dashed off to a conference, meeting or presentation by some literary group, or occasional language lessons. She saw our names on the books. She returned them to the shelves duly dusted, as she would candleholders or matchboxes. They were all the same to her, misdemeanours that might be overlooked, like eating or drinking to excess. Some childish ambition made me want to win her over to what I saw as the irresistible enchantment of classical Hungarian literature. I once recited Petőfi’s My Mother’s Hen to her. I thought this poem might appeal to her because she loved animals. She stood there, staring at me with the duster still in her hand, then gave a dry, grating laugh. The stories I knew defied belief. What is a stone? What was that about? What is a stone? And what was this word thou? Nobody spoke like that. I left the room, choking with rage.

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