Wednesday, March 01, 2017

First Paragraph

Take a man with a nice face and sad eyes, fifty or more winters on his back, living a moderately pleasant life in a tranquil country. He is a bookish fellow, the sort you would expect to find in a good publishing house or at a local university teaching how to compare one literature with another. He might even be a literary agent with a flair for dissident writing: texts bearing witness against oppression and inhumanity. Sometimes, in the evening, he reads Latin classics. There is no question anymore of his being able to do a version. He learned Latin in great globs to pass whatever examination happened to be blocking his path, always in the very nick of time; his knowledge was never precise. Fortunately, the power to grasp meaning and to remember has remained. He reveres the Aeneid. That is where he first found civil expression for his own shame at being alive, his skin intact and virgin of tattoo, when his kinsmen and almost all the others, so many surely more deserving than he, perished in the conflagration.

- From Wartime Lies by Louis Begley

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