Days Like These

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The Independent Culture
5 December 1940

CESARE PAVESE,

Italian poet and novelist,

observes in his journal:

"Fundamentally, the pleasure of sex is no more than that of eating. If there were embargoes on eating as there are on sex, a whole ideology would come into existence, a passion for eating, with standards of chivalry. This ecstasy they talk about - the vision, the dreams evoked by sex - is no more than the pleasure of biting into a medlar or a grape fresh from the vine. One can do without it."

6 December 1918

ROSA LUXEMBURG

(pictured), German

communist, writes in Breslau Prison:

"Through the window there falls across the bed a glint of light from the lamp which burns all night in front of the prison. At intervals I can hear faintly in the distance the noise of a passing train or close at hand the dry cough of the prison guard as in his heavy boots he takes a few slow strides to stretch his limbs. The grinding of the gravel beneath his feet has so hopeless a sound that all the weariness and futility of existence seems to be radiated thereby into the damp and gloomy night. I lie here alone and in silence, enveloped in the manifold black wrappings of darkness, tedium, unfreedom and winter - and yet my heart beats with an immeasurable and incomprehensible inner joy, just as if I were moving in brilliant sunshine across a flowery meadow. ... But when I search my mind for the cause of this joy, I find there is no cause and can only laugh at myself - I believe that the key to the riddle is simply life itself, this deep darkness of night is soft and beautiful as velvet, if only one looks at it in the right way. The grinding of the damp gravel beneath the slow and heavy tread of the prison guard is likewise a lovely little song of life - for one who has ears to hear it."

10 December 1860

THE GONCOURT BROTHERS

record in their journal:

"Flaubert told us that while writing the description of the poisoning of Madame Bovary, he had felt a pain as if he had a copper plate in his stomach, a pain which had made him vomit twice over. He said that one of his most agreeable moments was when, working on the end of his novel, he had been obliged to get up and look for another handkerchief because he had soaked the one he had! And all in order to amuse the bourgeois!"

Ian Irvine

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