Days Like These

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3 DECEMBER 1972

MIRCEA ELIADE,

Romanian philosopher,

historian of comparative religions

and novelist, writes in his journal:

"One of my favourite students, Jo, asked me today if there were a method for learning the Sanskrit language `rapidly'. I answered that the only method I knew of consisted of sitting down at one's desk in the morning, immersing oneself for twelve or sixteen hours straight in the study of Sanskrit to the exclusion of all other subjects, and not stopping except to take therapeutic walks in the morning and the evening.

"After four or five months one may allow oneself to do something else on the side, although it is preferable to read nothing that isn't related to Indian history or civilisation.

"I added that I myself had to go through this during the first year of my stay in Calcutta. I felt melancholy in saying so, since for some time I've felt not a little detached from what was once the passion of my youth."

3 December 1975

PETER HALL,

then director of the National Theatre, writes in his journal:

"After our notes following the second dress rehearsal [of Hamlet] tonight, Albert [Finney] told me quietly that he had had bad news. His father had died at ten to seven - just when he was playing the scene with the King his father. He was very upset, but extremely brave. He was very close to his father. He reminded me of a story he told me last summer. Some time back he realised that he'd never told his father what he meant to him - how fond he was of him, how he respected him. His father was in a nursing-home, ill, so Albert sat down and wrote him an eight-page letter trying to put into words his feelings. There was no answer. After a time he rang up and asked if he'd received the letter. `Oh yes,' said his father, `there's a reply in the post for you.' It read `Dear Albert, Thank you very much for your letter. Love, Dad.'"

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