Uit: The 12 Chairs (Vertaald door John Richardson)
“It appeared that she had not. Nor had the galoshes been washed. Ippolit Matveyevich disliked his mother-in-law. Claudia Ivanovna was stupid, and her advanced age gave little hope of any improvement. She was stingy in the extreme, and it was only Ippolit Matveyevich’s poverty which prevented her giving rein to this passion. Her voice was so strong and fruity that it might well have been envied by Richard the Lionheart, at whose shout, as is well known, horses used to kneel. Furthermore, and this was the worst thing of all about her, she had dreams. She was always having dreams. She dreamed of girls in sashes, horses trimmed with the yellow braid worn by dragoons, caretakers playing harps, angels in watchmen’s fur coats who went for walks at night carrying clappers, and knitting-needles which hopped around the room by themselves making a distressing tinkle. An empty-headed woman was
Claudia Ivanovna. In addition to everything else, her upper lip was covered by a moustache, each side of which resembled a shaving brush.
Ippolit Matveyevich left the house in rather an irritable mood. Bezenchuk the undertaker was standing at the entrance to his tumble-down establishment, leaning against the door with his hands crossed. The regular collapse of his commercial undertakings plus a long period of practice in the consumption of intoxicating drinks had made his eyes bright yellow like a cat’s, and they burned with an unfading light.
“Greetings to an honoured guest!” he rattled off, seeing Vorobyaninov.
Ippolit Matveyevich politely raised his soiled beaver hat. “How’s your mother-in-law, might I inquire? ” “Mrr-mrr,” said Ippolit Matveyevich indistinctly, and shrugging his shoulders, continued on his way.
“God grant her health,” said Bezenchuk bitterly. “Nothin’ but losses, durn it.” And crossing his hands on his chest, he again leaned against the doorway.”
Jevgeni Petrov (13 december 1903 – 2 juli 1942)
De Engelstalige en van oorsprong Zuid-Afrikaanse schrijver en officier Laurens Jan van der Post werd geboren in Philippopolis op 13 december 1906. Zie ook alle tags voor Laurens Jan van der Post op dit blog.
Uit:The Night of the New Moon
“I myself was utterly opposed to any form of war trials. I refused to collaborate with the officers of the various war crimes tribunals that were set up in the Far East. There seemed to me something unreal, if not utterly false, about a process that made men, like war crimes investigators from Europe, who had not suffered under the Japanese more bitter and vengeful about our suffering than we were ourselves. There seemed in this the seeds of the great, classic and fateful evasions in the human spirit which, I believe, both in the collective and in the individual sense, have been responsible for most of the major tragedies of recorded life and time and are increasingly so in the tragedies that confront us in the world today. I refer to the tendencies in men to blame their own misfortunes and those of their cultures on others; to exercise judgement they need for themselves in the lives of others; to search for a villain to explain everything that goes wrong on their private and collective courses. It was easy to be high-minded always in the life of others and afterwards to feel one had been high-minded in one’s own. The whole of history, it seemed to me, had been bedevilled by this unconscious and instant mechanism of duplicity in the mind of man. As I saw it, we had no moral surplus in our own lives for the lives of others. We needed all our moral energies for ourselves and our own societies.”
I had been drawn steadily over the years to a conclusion which has become almost a major article of faith. Men, I believed, were their own greatest villain — they themselves the flies in their own ointment. Villains undoubtedly do exist in the wide world without. But they do so in a mysterious and significant state of inter-dependence with the profoundest failures and inadequacies in ourselves and our attitudes to life. It is almost as if the villain without is a Siamese twin of all that is wrong within ourselves. The only sure way to rid life of villains, I believed, after years of thinking about it in prison, was to rid ourselves first of the villain within our own individual and native collective contexts. If we could take care of the measure of the failures in ourselves, I was certain that the world on the whole would ultimately take better care of itself.”
Laurens Jan van der Post (13 december 1906 – 16 december 1996)
Uit: The Book of Small
“Now that I am eight, the same age that Lizzie was when the party happened, and am getting quite near to being grown-up, I can see how shamed poor Lizzie must have been of me then.
Now I know why the Langleys, who were so old, gave a party for us who were so little, but then I was only four so I did not wonder about it at all, nor notice that the fair, shy boy was their own little brother, hundreds and hundreds of years younger than his big brother and two big sisters. They did not poke his party in the little boy’s face, did not say, “Albert, this is your party.
You must be kind and polite to the boys and girls.” That would have made Albert shyer than he was already. They let him enjoy his own party just as the other children were enjoying it.
The Langleys’ party was the first one we had ever been to. Mother made us look very nice. We had frilly white dresses, very starched. Lizzie who was eight, and Alice who was six, had blue sashes and hair ribbons. There was pink ribbon on me and I was only four.
Sister Dede bustled round saying, “Hurry! Hurry!” scrubbing finger nails and polishing shoes. She knotted our ribbons very tightly so that we should not lose them,–they pulled the little hairs under our curls and made us “ooch” and wriggle. Then Dede gave us little smacks and called us boobies. The starch in the trimming about our knees was very scratchy. Dede snapped the white elastics under our chins as she put on our hats and said to Mother, “I wonder how long these youngsters will stay clean.” Being fixed up for the party was very painful.
There were three pairs of white cotton gloves waiting on the hall stand, like the mitts of the three little kittens. Mother sorted them and stroked them onto the fingers we held out as stiff as they’d go, and by the time that Mr. Russell’s hansom cab, the only one in Victoria, jingled up to the door, we were quite ready.”
Emily Carr (13 december 1871 – 2 maart 1945)
Standbeeld in Victoria