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A wave of anger washed over me, anger against myself, at my age at the time, that stupid lyrical age, when a man is too great a riddle to himself to be interested in the riddles outside himself and when other people are mere walking mirrors in which he is amazed to find his own emotions, his own worth.

On Levin's state, a man and a woman meet -- two melancholy, lonely people. They like one another and secretly hope to join their lives together. All they need is the chance to be alone for a moment and say so. Finally one day they find themselves unobserved in a wood where they have come to gather mushrooms. Ill at ease, they are silent, knowing that the moment is upon them and they must not let it slip by. The silence has already lasted rather a long while when the woman suddenly, "involuntarily, reflexively," starts to talk about mushrooms. Then silence again, and the man casts about for a way to declare himself, but instead of speaking of love, "on some unexpected impulse" he too talks about mushrooms. On the way home they go on discussing mushrooms, powerless and desperate, for never, they know it, never will they speak of love.

Back at the house, the man tells himself that he did not declare his love because of the memory of his dead mistress, which he cannot betray. But we know perfectly well: It is a false excuse he invokes only to console himself. Console himself? Yes. Because we can resign ourselves to losing a love for a reason. We would never forgive ourselves for losing it for no reason at all.

Milan Kundera: The Art of the Novel

Last edited by Caroline Schnapp about 8 years ago.

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