Saturday, December 27, 2008

Belated loose ends.


Many months after it would have done any good...a copy of the original! In a really hard to read format! With a download link hidden behind a registering process.

Still, if anyone cared to have a look, there it is.

Also: I'm doing another one at my main blog. Over here.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Give It Here!

     It was early in the morning in 1965 or 1966—I no longer remember when—when my friend Ján N.1 and I arrived at the airport in Bratislava sleep-deprived, fatigued, and quite decimated by the hectic events of the preceding days, with the goal of collecting signatures from our Slovak colleagues for a petition to convene an extra plenary session of the Czechoslovak Writers Union on the subject of several absurd anti-cultural offensives of the current government. (There had to be a session if a third of the members signed, pursuant to the Union’s statutes, but how was this possible? Today it seems like a tale from A Thousand and One Nights, but back then everything was different: the state was really quite terrified about the matter, and was in no way clear on how to see to it that we did not collect that third). I sat with Ján N. in the airport terminal, and we debated who to see in what order and how to actually find them all (as far as I can remember we didn’t have their addresses and didn’t know Bratislava).

     When day broke a bit we went out on the street and a few minutes later a voice rang out behind us: “Where are you going, boys?”2 It was Juraj Špitzer, and we told him what we were after, He told us that we were already expected in Bratislava (and we had not decided to fly in until midnight!) because the Central Committee of the KSČ3 had called all of the Slovak writers—party members—to forbid them from signing. We said “Lord!” Špitzer replied: “Never fear, come with me!” We said: “Where?” Špitzer: “Well, we’re having a meeting of the extended Union leadership, where [Vojtech] Mihálik is going to explain one more time why we must not sign.” Us: “And can we go there with you?” Him: “Why not? At least say what you came to say.”

     And so he took us there. There were about twenty people there, some whom we knew a little, others not. We surreptitiously took a few alertness pills4 and I succeeded (with the substantial help of Ján N.) to explain, over the course of an hour-long exposé, the cultural, historical, moral, and political importance of our position. Then came the debate, we replied to questions, explained, argued, etc. Mihálik explained at length how our business was a blow below the belt to the Party and therefore to the whole “cultural front,” others said the opposite, time flew, it was already noon, there was no end in sight, but all was well: the longer the went the more of those present were on our side, saying that we were right and there were situations where the truth was more important than the will of the Party. In such deliberations with petitions (and how many have I experienced in my life!) it is always most important to select the proper moment to take the signature sheets out of your briefcase and put them on the table: occasionally there are moments where it is clear you have gotten through to them and they will sign, but it could be the case that they would not a moment earlier or a moment later.

     It happened that the decisive moment came. I looked inquisitively at Ján N., he nodded, so I took them out and put them on the table; at that moment nearly two-thirds of those present had clearly decided to sign. The first of them—they were already standing up—were approaching the papers, I was a little nervous—and then Mihálik suddenly stood and said: “Leave it like it is, the Slovaks must act as one!” Everyone started, a deep silence fell, Mihálik headed for the doors and then everyone—including those standing over the papers, already reaching into their pockets for a pen—started to turn (or should I say squirm)5 quietly and a little bashfully for the door and the coathooks where they had their coats, hats, and caps. It was clear to us that we wouldn’t be bringing back many signatures from Slovakia, and I started to furtively stuff the pages back in my briefcase.

     And at that moment something happened, the reason why I’m writing about this ancient history: suddenly a handsome guy with a striking face stood up, though he had said nothing the whole morning, walked up to me and said: “Give it here!” Completely at a loss from all this, I took the signature sheets out of my briefcase again, and put them on the table. This man took out a pen and wrote: Dominík Tatarka, clapped me on the back, and left without looking at anyone or saying anything else. Ján N. and I just stared after him in surprise. I probably don’t even have to tell the rest: the others, already in their coats and hats, returned, lined up quietly, and signed, one after the other. Mihálik slammed the door and vanished, maybe one other person with him, I don’t remember. The Slovaks didn't act as one—almost, though.

Dominík, be well and strong and may you always be the way you are — and as far as I can recall — as you have always been!

--Václav Havel, on Dominík Tatarka’s 70th birthday, February 1983

1 Possibly a real person, though this was written under Communism and Ján N[ovák] is also the Czech equivalent of ‘John Doe’
2 Italicized text is in Slovak in the Czech original.
3 The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
4 !! I'm guessing these weren't caffeine.
5 A nearly identical match in the original: blížit ‘draw near’ and ‘plížit’ creep

[I think this is a fun story, and I needed a fun little sub-project to get me moving again. From a collection of Hável essays and letters from 1983-1989 I picked up at Moe's in Berkeley Thursday night.]

Monday, May 26, 2008

Closure, of a sort

The text exists on-line in multiple forms.

a) serially here (no longer the most up-to-date version, rife with problems of various sorts.)
b) Here, at the Internet Archive (free download, uploaded by a courteous reader)
c) At Scribd, which is where I first uploaded it, before I knew you needed to be a member to download things. I will probably remove this soon; I didn't really want to sign up myself.

Typos, I'm sure, are present. We'll see how many of them get teased out.

[original post has been edited repeatedly; I've also gone back and deleted a few wheedling, non-essential posts put up when I was procrastinating on the final release.]

I shall post here at least once more, as there are plans. This is not the end.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Editorial Remarks

It was Karel Čapek’s wish that these fables and understories, the majority of which came from his later years in journalism, be assembled into a book. He left behind preparatory materials for this volume, consisting of a collection of newspaper clippings and several manuscripts found in his estate. It was possible to fill in the incomplete material from the original clippings until it encompassed the entirety of the intended contents. The author’s original goal was not only fulfilled by assembling all of the understories, (the name that Čapek himself gave to his feuilletons, but also to include all the fables we have of Čapek’s in their various incarnations from 1925 and 1938.

In addition to the newspaper fables, two collections were included directly from manuscripts. The first of these was found on the back of a letter from the poet Jaroslav Seifert, in which he had requested a contribution from Čapek for the “Majový list 1935,” subsequently published by the Central Workers’ Bookstore and Ant. Svěcený Publishing in Prague. Twelve of the twenty-one fables in it were published in the thirteenth section of the fable cycle with the notation that the manuscript was from 1935. One of them (Stone) was published by the author a privately in a collection of Fables, printed in fifty copies in 1936 for Václav Palivec. The second group of fables (XIV) comes from a handwritten octavo manuscript page included by the author in the preliminary material for this book. It has no date, but in all likelihood an origin of 1936 is indicated by its similarity to other extant manuscripts published in that year.

Though the publishers have largely preserved the original chronological progression of the understories, it had to judge between several different possible arrangements for the fables, keeping in mind the exacting sensibilities of the reader. The most attractive of these systems comes from Karel Čapek himself, who, in the aforementioned private edition of 1936, divided his fables into thematic categories whose headings were literature, politics, history, war, and the future. But this possibility, even in light of his collection, eventually gave way to the decision to leave the fables in their original groupings according to their original printing. In this manner they illustrate their timely and extensive effect best of all, their connection to the atmosphere of the times and its events which gave birth to them, quickly transforming into ironic commentary, cutting remarks, aggressive appeals, and sharp commentary on day-to-day events.

In this reprint several minor corrections have been made which the author added to newspaper clippings after their publication, as well as some stylistic corrections originally made by the author during collection into his 1936 collection. In spite of the variant versions in the original texts, we have captured their definitive form in this book.

Prague, 1946

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Ten Centavos

Of course it wasn’t in our country, no papers write like that here, and the voice of society, of the people, of the streets, or however you call it, doesn’t turn a corner so quickly at home. It was in Lisbon during one of their political coups; one regime fell, the government embraced another—you know how it happens in those foreign countries. Senhor Manoel Varga didn’t concern himself too much with it, for politics was not his field; he was just faintly disappointed and sighed sometimes over the disquiet that aroused people’s thoughts and turned them from matters (in his mind) that were more useful and noble. For Don Manoel loved his quiet and his work; he was chair of the Society for Public Education and adamantly believed that higher education opened the gates of the nation to well-being and freedom, that work and learning were our salvation, and so on. That morning, he had just finished attending to some correspondence on the popular astronomy course in Monsaras and a lecture on the health of nursing infants in the town of Moura, when his housekeeper came back from shopping, her eyes streaming and face red.

“Here you have it, sir,” she proclaimed, and tossed a crumpled newspaper onto the table. “And I am quitting this place! I am an honorable woman, and I cannot work in such a place!”

“Come now, come now,” Mr. Varga said in surprise, and looked over his glasses at the newspaper. He froze for a moment; the following headline appeared in bold on the front page: “HANDS OFf, SENHOR MANOEL VARGA!!!” Senhor Varga couldn’t believe his eyes. “Where did you get this, woman?” he sputtered.

From the butcher, supposedly. The butcher had showed it to her, and everyone was talking about it. And everybody was saying something had to be done and such a wretched traitor and dog like Don Varga couldn’t be allowed to live on their street.

“What everybody?” Mr. Varga asked uncomprehendingly.

“Everybody; the maids, the servants, the butcher, the baker— “And I can’t stay,” she managed through furious tears. “People will come here with torches—and they have every right to! It’s right there in the papers, who’s doing what and why…that’s what someone gets for their faithful service!”

“Please, leave me be,” said Don Varga. “And if you want to go, I won’t stop you.”

Now he could read what the newspaper said. “Hands up, Senhor Manoel Varga!” Perhaps it was another Varga, he thought a moment in relief, and read on. No, it was about him. “The public has been taking account of your ‘humanitarian’ actions, Mr. Varga, and you have poisoned the soul of our nation for years and years! We will not stand for your rotten, outlandish education, which only aggravates our moral decay, weakness and internal division; moreover, we will not allow you to spread your subversive opinions among our youth and our simple people under the name of useful education any longer…”

Mr. Manoel Varga set the newspaper down in sorrow. He could not grasp what was subversive in popular astronomy or the hygiene of nurselings, and he didn’t even try. He simply believed in education, and liked people, and that was all. So many people came to his lectures, and now they wrote that people thought them worthless and abhorred them. Mr. Varga shook his head and read on. “If our officials will not intervene with your little arrangement, then our awakened public will have to take matters into its own hand. Until then, be on guard, Mr. Manoel Varga!”

Senhor Manoel Varga carefully folded the newspaper and put in down. So this is the end, he told himself. He could not understand what had changed so abruptly in people that what had been good yesterday was harmful and subversive today; but he understood even less how so much hatred had sprung up between men. God in heaven, there was so much hatred! Old Don Manoel shook his head and looked out at the suburb of Sao Joao. It was lovely and dear as always; you could hear the happy cries of children and barking dogs—Mr. Varga took his glasses off and slowly cleaned them. God, so much hatred! What has happened to everyone! It was as if they had changed overnight. Even the housekeeper; she had been there for so many years…Mr. Varga remembered wistfully that he was a widow. If my poor late wife were alive—would she have changed too?

Senhor Manoel Varga sighed and picked up the telephone. I’ll call my old friend de Souza, he told himself, he’ll advise me—

“Hello, this is Varga.”

A moment of silence. “Souza. What do you want?”

Mr. Varga gulped. “I just wanted…to ask. Have you read the article?”

“I have.”

“Please…what should I do about it?”

A slight hesitation. “Nothing. You must realize, that… that circumstances have changed. See? Well. Get used to it.” Click. Mr. Varga couldn’t even find the cradle for the telephone. That had been his best friend. How could everything have changed so? Get used to it—but how? How could a men get used to being hated? And how could a man get used to hate when he had preached love his whole life?

Well, I must get used to it—at least formally, Don Manoel decided; so he sat down at his desk and carefully drafted a letter, stating he was resigning his post of chair of the Society for Public Education. In light of the changed circumstances, and so on. Mr. Varga sighed and took his hat; he would deliver it himself, to have it done with all the sooner.

He went across town on back streets with the feeling that even the buildings were looking at him differently, almost inimically, perhaps also in the light of the changed circumstances. Perhaps the neighbors were talking about that Varga who poisons our very nation. Someone might have been slowly closing their door as he went by—it wouldn’t be surprising. Mr. Varga walked quickly, also in light of the changed circumstances. I might have to move somewhere else, he thought, sell my summer camp and…well, get used it to, right?

Mr. Varga got onto a tram and sat in a corner. Two or three people were just then reading that very paper. Hands off, Senhor Manoel Varga! What if they knew it was me, Don Manoel thought—that gloomy-looking one might point and say: ‘Do you see him! It is that Varga who spreads his subversive ideas! And he is not ashamed to be out in public!’ I should get off the tram, Mr. Varga thought, feeling unfriendly eyes about him…Christ in heaven, how well people’s eyes could show hate!

“Ticket, sir,” the conductor’s voice boomed over him. Mr. Varga almost took fright, and was taking a handful of change out of his pocket; at this a small coin of ten centavos fell and rolled under a seat.

The conductor looked for it. “Leave it,” Mr. Varga said at once, counting change—he didn’t want to call attention to himself.

The gloomy-loking man set down his paper and bent over, looking under the seat for the coin. “Honestly, sir, it isn’t worth it,” Mr. Varga assured him, quite nervously.

The man grumbled something and crawled under the bench after the coin; the others in the tram watched him in interest and understanding.

“I think it fell here,” a second man mumbled, sitting on his heels to look for it. Mr. Varga was on tenterhooks.

“Thank you…thank you,” he stammered, “but it’s really not necessary—”

“There it is,” the second man proclaimed, his head underneath the bench, “but it fell between the boards, the little devil! Do you have a knife?”

“I don’t,” Mr. Varga apologized, “but please…it’s not worth the effort—”

A third senhor put down his paper and dug in his pockets without a word; he took out a leather case and from it a little silver knife. “Show me,” he told the second man, “I will get it out.”

The whole tram looked on intently, delighting in watching the third man probe the gap between the boards with his blade. “It’s coming along,” he rumbled contentedly, and at that the coin jumped out and rolled merrily along. A fourth man bent over, hunting under the bank.

“Here it is,” he announced triumphantly, and stood up, red with exertion. “There you are, sir,” he wheezed, and handed the coin to Mr. Varga.

“Thank…thank you, sir,” Senhor Manoel Varga babbled, touched. “You were very kind, and the other gentlemen as well,” he added, bowing politely in all directions.

“It was noting,” the third man grumbled.

“Glad to do it,” spoke the second.

“At least you found it,” said the first.

The people on the tram smiled and nodded their heads. At least the coin was found—kudos! Manoel Varga, blushing in embarrassment over attracting so much attention, sat rigidly, watching the third man, the one with the knife, pick up his newspaper once more and begin to read the article: “Hands off, Senhor Varga!”

When Mr. Varga got off, everyone in the tram nodded at him in a friendly way; even the ones reading the newspaper raised their eyes and grumbled: “Adios, senhor!”

LN, 20 November 1938

Thursday, March 6, 2008


“Interviews,” said the conductor Pilát, shrugging his shoulders. “I wonder if you would believe it, sir. I too have my experiences with interviews, and I tell you simply that when I have to grant one to someone that I would rather not read it later. I would just get angry for nothing. A man should be able to have a chuckle over the things he reads in such an interview, but then he sees how carelessly the journalist has distorted it. You notice slapdash work when you see it, don’t you? Sometimes I marvel how this journalist or that muddled and twisted everything I told him so cruelly, as if he deliberately wrote things the wrong way around—why, I cannot imagine. If I were a politician or a similarly important figure, fine: that’s how it is is politics, and these people have a special interest in putting words into people’s mouths they never said, or to invent whole conversations, that also happens. But me—how to put it—I am a musician, I am nobody, no one has anything against me, especially not here at home, and still not even half of what I really say in the interview ends up in print.
So I’ll tell you so you know how it is. I have to direct a large concert in Liverpool or Paris. When Maestro Pilát is directing, the agency makes a big deal out of it. I haven’t even washed my hands in the hotel room when the desk calls me and says that a man wishes to speak to me. Important business, supposedly. Good God, I say, the newspapers! You know, the newspapers only care about you the first day; the next you are no longer news, and if you want them to mention you again, you have to get run over by an automobile at the least. So, I let the man wait a little while—it seems to suit the whole business; and then ‘yes, please, what can I do for you?’ The man introduces himself, addresses me as ‘Dear Maestro,’ and says such and such a newspaper would like to print a few words about me…

“What, an interview?” I say. “I do not give interviews on principle.”

“No, no,” the young man defends himself. “Just a few words, a completely unforced conversation…”

I give in, resigned. “Well then, sit, let’s get to it!”

The young man takes out a pad and licks his pencil. Right away I can tell that he knows nothing about me, that he does not like music, and that he has no conception of what to talk to me about. He looks at me uncertainly for a moment and then starts: “If would would tell me something about yourself, Maestro.”

That normally rubs me the wrong way. “I know nothing of myself,” I tell him. “But we can talk about music, if it is all the same to you.”

The young man gratefully nods his head, and scribbles furiously. “When did you start to play?” he then asks.

“As a young boy,” I say. “On the piano.”

The young man writes furiously. “Where were you born?”

“In Maršov.”

“Where is that?”

“In Czechoslovakia.”

“Where, please?”

“In Czechoslovakia. In the Krokonoše.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Krkonoše. Riesengebirge,” I explain to him. “Monts Géants. Giant Mountains.

“Aha,” the young man says, writing intently. “Can you tell me something about your childhood? For example…what was your father like?”

“He was a teacher. He played the organ in church. Those were my first musical impressions,” I say, to get the subject back to music. “You know, an old Czech cantor like that, a musician, one with nature—in our country it is a family tradition.” And so on. The young man writes and nods his head, satisfied. That is exactly what his paper needs. Bravo, Maestro!

Finally I show him out and sigh: there, that is over with. I like wandering around foreign cities; no one knows you there… I tell you, sometimes when I am conducting I feel like throwing up my baton when I am struck by horror and revulsion of people watching me. No one who has no sense for comedy should ever get up in public. But that is another story.

So the next morning I get the newspaper. The headline is bold: “A Conversation with Maestro Pilát.” Fine. “Maestro Pilát admitted our correspondent in a luxury suite in the Hotel X.” Hold on, I met the young man in the hotel lobby! “We were accepted with an unusual, ebullient warmth.” Wow, I think. “The exquisite, refined surroundings contrasted sharply with the gigantic, severe figure with the enormous mane of hair, unfettered in appearance.”I barely measure a meter-seventy, as as for the mane—well, let’s leave it at that. “He ran his fingers through his graying mane and his swarthy face became gloomy. ‘My origins,’ he said, ‘are concealed in secrecy; I cannot say much about myself. I was born in Hungary not far from Warsaw, my womb was the wild and enormous mountains. Wind roared over the forests at the place of my birth and the waterfalls thundered like an organ in a cathedral. That was the first musical impression of my life. I can betray to you that my father was an old gypsy. He lived with nature like hundreds and hundreds of our ancestors. Our family traditions are poaching, freedom, and furious cymbal and violin music. To this day I enjoy disappearing into the camps of my countrymen and playing the songs of my childhood on a violin around the fire…”

What can I tell you: I ran down to that newspaper and looked for the chief editor. I think I pounded on his desk a bit or something, but that man just took off his glasses and said in surprise: “But sir, we write for the news, after all! We must print the truth interestingly, don’t you understand? I don’t understand why you’re getting so angry…”

Now I’m not mad about it any more, a man gets used to it… And not only that, but I think there might not be any other way about it: you live your life, but the picture other people have of you is always different; what then when this picture is presented to the public! I can’t even tell you any more if this interview was in Liverpool or Rotterdam or somewhere else, but I am convinced of the following: when I stood in that concert hall at my podium, that the entire audience truly saw me as an enormous, unfettered, wild man with flowing hair, leaping over gypsy fires, violin in hand. The concert was an enormous and fantastic success. So I don’t even know if the young journalist was so wrong, in a way… you see, at least in that there is a private truth and a public one.”

LN 13 November 1938

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


“So just imagine,” said Mr. Diviš, “what happened to me. I’ve been receiving these…anonymous letters for years now. They are from—judging from the handwriting, paper, and so on—about three or four people; two type them and two handwrite them; of these one has horribly poor handwriting, rather base in effect, whereas the other writes in calligraphy, with such drawn, painstaking letters — it must be a terrible amount of work. Why these four have chosen me I cannot even tell you; I don’t get involved with politics, except that I occasionally write articles in the newspaper concerning the needs and goals of our dairy and cheese plant. When a man becomes an expert in the smallest thing, it no longer suits him and he is compelled to rouse the nation with his scrap of knowledge, informing the conscientious public and so on. I never thought that my proposals to improve our cheese plants could injure someone’s feelings, but one never knows. One of my faithful anonyms seems to be a butcher or a curer, fighting for the interests of his profession; after each of my articles he sends a typed letter in which he accuses me of befouling our conscientious society with this cheese of mine, and undermining our nation’s strength. The second, writing on an old Remington, notifies me outright that I am, as is commonly known, paid millions in royalties for my idiotic articles by certain interests, and that with my thirty pieces of silver I have already bought three estates. Moreover, I only want to bamboozle our people into swilling down my adulterated and typhoid-riddled milk for their bloody money. Of the handwritten ones the base one writes such shameful things about my wife, well, I cannot even say what, but… it is terrible what people are capable of in rancor and venom. Perhaps it is some well-to-do woman who knows us and who dictates these letters to her maid or washerwoman. Finally, the calligraphic one always threateningly addresses me as “Dear Sir!” and categorically demands that I leave everyone be with my milk; the nation supposedly has other concerns and will faithfully deal with those who deliberately divert its attention to material baseness and destroy its idealism. You shall be the first to hang from the lamp-posts, my calligraphic anonym informs me, when our people see through this web of lies and despicable distractions which your associates and your confederates have woven, and so on. The specifics don’t matter much: you see, these anonymous letters went on in the same vein, as though they had been written by some sort of advice columnist or regular correspondent. I just wondered who was writing them; I thought it was some friend of mine who was looking to vent his private feelings like this or to revenge himself against me in some way—I couldn’t imagine what for; but likely as not it had to be someone I knew or someone I had some sort of contact with. I despise writing letters: for this reason I think I normal man has to have a very strong reason to put pen to paper and write something.

It went on for years: the strange thing is that in these recent troubled times the letters have markedly increased in number and vehemence. The martial butcher or whoever has gotten increasingly personal, writing ‘you bloated pig, the knife for you is already sharpened,’ and such things. The one on the Remington has begun to sign as the Purge League, and advises me to say good-bye to my estates—you know, as far as land goes, I only have a windowbox with geraniums—for the working classes have already passed judgment over parasites like me. The ungrammatical letters about my wife have become recognizably harsher, and my calligraphic anonym now holds me responsible for everything that has happened, and signs off with the words: ‘Flee for the borders, you nothing, it is not too late! Signed: FUROR.’ Of course, there was more, but still in the same energetic style. I think that the excited times increase both people’s tendencies towards writing and their need to display them; I just wondered all the more how a boring businessman like myself could interest someone so passionately. There had to be something horribly personal behind it…maybe I had injured someone or gotten in someone’s way—shows how much one knows about one’s acquaintances! Still, you know, it is a little troubling when one has to look at everyone extending a hand with a bit of insecurity: my friend, is it finally you?

Once the other day I went to roam the streets a bit in the evening; I had cleared my mind and was only looking to see how people lived their lives, as though I were from some other time. I don’t even know what street I was on—a quiet little one, somewhere near Gröbovka. A short man with a cape was limping in front of me. He seemed to have a terrible cold because he kept coughing, spitting, and hunting in his pockets for a handkerchief. During on of his trips into his pocket an envelope fell out, but he didn’t notice it and went on. I picked it up and looked at it to see if it was worth chasing after this little man. My address was on it. And it was written in the same beautiful writing of my fourth anonym.

So I pick up my step and shout: “Hey, sir, isn’t this your letter?”

The man in the cape stopped and looked through his pockets. “Show me?” he said. “Yeah, it’s my letter. A thousand thanks, sir. Reverent thanks.”

I tell you, I stood as still as if I had been struck by lightning. You see, I have a memory for faces, but I had never seen this man before in my life. Here was a nobody for you; horribly stained collar, tattered pants, a crooked knot instead of a collar; well, it was piteous; his Adam’s apple bobbed in his neck, he had streaked eyes, a fatty lump on his face, and on top of it all he had a bad leg—-

“My reverent thanks, good sir,” he said, gravely polite, and doffed his hat in an old-fashioned way. “Greatly obliged.” He waved his hat once more and limped solemnly on.

I tell you, I just stood there and stared after him open-mouthed. So that was my Anonymous! Someone whom I had never met and to whom I had never done anything. And this man writes me and even sends his letters by pneumatic post! For the love of God, how did I come to this—and how did he? I thought about God-knows-what kind of secret enemy and meanwhile—think of the money it was costing the poor man! I wanted to run after him and find out who he was, but somehow I couldn’t; I turned my back on his and ambled on home. I felt such terrible pity. I had thought it was making him feel better. But at least the fool could have left off the postage! I should have said ‘Sir, you can send it to me postage due; it cost you so much writing, and to drop it like that as well—’

In the morning I got the letter by pneumatic post, still smeared from where it had fallen on the wet pavement. There were terrible things in it: throw me up against the wall, string me up in a tree, and I don’t know what else. I just feel so bad about it. You see, he is such a wretch, that man; it must eat away at the poor thing, just imagine what sort of sad and strange life it must be…”

LN, 6 November 1938