Wednesday, October 11, 2017

the last book I ever read (The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth, excerpt ten)

from The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth:

Eight A.M. was still half an hour away. The Kaiser felt he couldn’t stand this uncertainty any longer. Now just why, oh, why did Trotta’s name remind him of Solferino? And why couldn’t he remember the link between them? Was he that old already? Since returning from Ischl, he had been haunted by the question of how old he really was, for it suddenly struck him as odd that you could tell you age by subtracting the year of your birth from the current calendar year, but that each year began in January, while his birthday was the eighteenth of August! Now if the year began in August! And if, say, he had been born on the eighteenth of January, then it wouldn’t have made much difference. But this way, you couldn’t possibly know whether you were eighty-two and in your eighty-third year or eighty-three and in your eighty-fourth year. Nor did the Kaiser care to ask. People had a lot to do anyhow, and it didn’t matter at all whether you were on year younger or older, and ultimately, even if you’d been younger, you still wouldn’t have remembered why that damn Trotta reminded you of Solferino. The Comptroller of the Royal Household knew. But he wasn’t due until eight o’clock. Maybe the valet knew?

And the Kaiser paused in his shuffling and asked the valet, “Listen, does the name Trotta ring a bell?”

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