Days Like These

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The Independent Culture
28 August 1987

CZESLAW MILOSZ,

Polish poet and novelist, writes in his journal:

"In Castel Gandolfo somebody told me about the Pope's visit to the Turkish assassin, Acsa, in his Roman prison. In the photograph it looked as if Acsa was confessing to the Pope. In reality, he was sharing with him his apprehensions. He had shot from such a short distance that he thought the Pope's survival could only be explained by the intervention of the Our Lady of Fatima; that day had been the anniversary of her apparition. Acsa, a superstitious man, was now afraid that she would retaliate. The Pope had to calm him down, assuring him that to take revenge was not Our Lady's way."

31 August 1906

JAMES JOYCE,

novelist, writes from Rome to his brother Stanislaus:

"We go to a little wine shop opposite the house at night and the proprietor who is delighted with Georgie [Joyce's infant son] invited us to dinner some nights ago; sardines, roast veal and tomatoes, salad, a huge English pudding, melons in rum, wine and cognac and cigars. The pudding was the gift of an old priest from Sicily - Padre Michele! though I have made open confession of my `heresies', but, really I think he meant nothing ill by his mess of pottage - which was excellent. He said he was an old man and thought sometimes of buying a revolver to protect himself from assault at night in the streets and asked me did I approve of that.

"Georgie can understand everything almost that is said to him and imitates every sound he hears - clocks, vendors, singing, etc. Today while Nora and he were passing through a narrow street some hoarse whore of an Italian driving a cart at breakneck speed and flourishing a whip, caught him right under the eye and he has a long weal across his cheek and nose. Pleasant, isn't it? It puts my teeth on edge to write of it."

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