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That thing about beauty



I had the opportunity to give a press interview the other day concerning a book I had translated. I found myself in trouble. The journalist wanted to know what I meant by "beautiful prose." Do you mean political references?


Being a journalist, she understood that a book may have a political subtext. We talked about Divine Julius, a book long mistaken for criticism of East European communists while it really is a book about all perversions of the republic everywhere--Orban and Erdogan today, someone else tomorrow.


But what I could not explain to her is this: the beauty of the prose. Here is a bit that turns my mind, from Naso the Poet. It describes the drowsiness one experiences in the southern climes at siesta time.


"There was always the question of whether the shutters should be opened or closed. When closed, they protected against the heat, but when opened, they gave the pleasant illusion of a breeze. A brief moment of reflection before settling down on the bed. Lazy heaviness and an uncertain sense of reality. What about this window? All by itself, the hand made a slight movement and pulled the latch with an unclear intention. Only then it turned out that one shutter would remain closed and the other slightly ajar."


Maybe you don't see it, such a thing is very personal. But I sense it: I feel that I am there. I have lived through such afternoon hesitations about the shutters during a southern siesta. I love the memory. The prose takes me there.

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