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Research and analytics cookies These cookies help us understand user behavior within our services. Born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt, he is currently distinguished professor at the Graduate Center of City University of New York, where he teaches the history of literary theory and the works of Marcel Proust.
He writes with the ferocity of a writer who's finally getting his vision down, and he has to say it, has to get it out. Enigma Variations: A Novel pdf free.
The question was where to spend the rest of the day until boarding the ferry back. Not a ruffle, in those days. From my bed, you saw the hills, from the living room the sea, and when the dining room shutters were flung open on cooler days, you could step out on the terrace and take in the valley and beyond the valley the hazy outline of the hills on the mainland across the sea.
On leaving the old town, I was struck by the blinding spill of light sweeping through the fields, onto the esplanade, down to the glinting sea beyond. I loved the silence. Everything felt familiar, nothing had changed. And yet everything felt distant, frayed, unreachable, as though something in me were unable to register that all this was real, that so much of it had once belonged to me. What stung me was knowing that our house was no longer there, that all those living in it were gone, that early summer life here was never going to be the same.
I felt like a timid ghost who knows his way around town but is no longer wanted or paid attention to. All our rituals were disbanded and void. The thought of the fire and of the looting, the looting especially, was enough to stoke a demon of sorrow, anger, and spite aimed not only at everyone living here but also against ourselves, as though the inability to prevent plunder and vandalism by alleged friends and neighbors sat on our conscience more than on theirs.
I cared for none of it. I would gladly have dragged each one to court, rich, poor, orphans, widows, cripples, and war disabled. And yet, of all the people here, there was only one I wished to see, and he was gone, sparito.
I knew this already. So why even bother asking after him? That all I had to do was ask about him in the barbershop, and after inquiries were shouted out by so many up and down the narrow, cobbled lanes of San Giustiniano Alta, he would finally turn up just because people had called his name?
Why should he even remember me? He had known me as a twelve-year-old, now I was twenty-two and sported a beard. Yet the years had done nothing to make me forget the rising anxiety that seized me each time I both dreaded and hoped to bump into him at the beach or around town.
The fear, the panic, the old tightness in my throat, which only a sob could release and which might erupt of its own if he so much as stared at me longer than I could stand.
I remembered everything. When I gave him a startled look to mean how did he know, his answer was a jaunty Everyone knows. Then, seeming to remember, Maybe from the beach, he said. I knew that his name was Giovanni, just as I knew that everyone called him Nanni. I had to control myself from showing how thrilled I was to discover that the man before whom I could have sworn being a complete nonentity not only knew my name but was actually standing under my own roof.
Unlike him, though, I did not show that I knew him. My mother introduced him to me with a note of irony in her voice, meaning, But surely you do know Signor. Upload Sign In Join. Home Books Contemporary Fiction. Create a List. Download to App. Length: pages 5 hours. Related Categories. Related Authors.