Autodidact: self-taught



by V. L. Craven

The Dead of Jericho by Colin Dexter
001. …he’d come round to the view that Freud would have been a far more valuable citizen if he’d stuck to his research on local anaesthetics.

2015 Best European Fiction ‘The Demise of Engineer G.’  (from Little Things That Matter) by Rein Raud (translated by Matthew Hyde) [Best European Fiction 2015]
-001- Names which had until then sounded like hollow echoes of an absent world had turned up with unexpected speed on the signposts of our immediate intellectual landscape, and those unfortunate who didn’t manage to read them were assigned with cursory cruelty to the ranks of yesterday’s men.
-002- It wasn’t that moving in step with the new was compulsory, it wasn’t–just that in its non-compulsory nature it had a passing resemblance to those voluntary activities which we all had to take part in at least once, and generally more often, during our youth…
-003- We were ahead of our times, removed from our immediate environment, and it would be wrong to say that we didn’t enjoy that.
-004- It just goes to show that one can end up paying for the gaps in one’s knowledge of the masterpieces of world literature in the most cruel and unexpected of ways.

Depths by Henning Mankell
001. 52: Tobiasson-Svartman was always nervous when required to address a crew. To conceal his unease, he came across s strict and liable to lose his temper.
002. 125: She expressed herself clearly, as only people who talk a lot to themselves can.
003. 216: His father had once spoken to guests at dinner about the importance of people learning at act like snakes. Cold blood, endless patience and poisonous fangs that struck at exactly the right instant.
004. Human beings worked constantly to make their gods unnecessary. He was an individual who made scientific measurements: one day time and perhaps also space would be measured and controlled by scales of measurements hitherto unknown. The supernatural was shadows dancing in the remains of a childhood fear of the dead.
005. It was as if he had some kind of invisible seal that made him inaccessible to everybody apart from himself. The surface was calm, like a sea when there is no wind blowing, but underneath it lurked all the duplicitous forces he was forced to fight against. Ambition, insecurity, the memory of his furious father and the silent weeping of his mother. He lived through constant battle between control, calculation and outrageous risk-taking. He did not do what other people do and adapt to different situations, but he changed his personality, became somebody else, often without being aware of the face.
006. I know how to set up a lie, he thought. But I cannot cope with living in the world that lies create. The impostor lives a life, but the deceit involved lives a different life.

Diary of a Seducer by Kierkegaard
001. Lost to others, they sought in vain to find themselves. – Kierkegaard, Diary of a Seducer
002. Cordelia occupies me almost too much. I again lose my balance, not in her presence, not when she is present, but when in the strictest sense when I am alone with her.

‘A Dog’s Fate or The Diversion of Armin P.’ by Simon Deckert (translated by Rebecca McMullan) [from Best European Fiction 2015]
001. Many thoughts are like a cul-de-sac with a roundabout at the end. When you’re done with them, you can either think back over them until you’re back at the beginning, or you can go round and round the endpoint in order to convince yourself that it’s a progressive thought that you’re having, effectively circling around in the illusion of forward movement.

2015 Best European Fiction ‘Dungeness’  by Edy Poppy (translated by Diane Oatley) [from Best European Fiction 2015]
001. He feels that the shadows outside affect her, that she has been a bit extinguished, internally. But he doesn’t complain. He likes her way of being. A little dark, like the sky in polluted cities.
002. She checks the room one last time. Thinks about all of the hours, days, months. A blurry image. Because all this time she has been longing for something else with him.
003. …she makes up short, erotic stories in an attempt to satisfy him. His hand moving in a steady and recognisable rhythm beneath his fly both excites and saddens her. She can feel his breath on the back of her neck while she is talking. She knows that he no longer feels any shame. That he is capable of imaging anything.
004. ‘Thinking about something sad makes me happy,’ he says then. ‘I know it’s difficult to understand but that’s the way I am.’
005. He doesn’t know what he is going to do with himself, so he starts taking an interest in the lives of others. He pokes around in the empty summer houses first. He usually finds the key under the doormat or a flowerpot. He loves this sensation of strangeness: the invasion of other people’s privacy. The first thing he does is to remove the sheets from all the chairs and tables, pull back the curtains, open the windows wide, air out the abandoned and dusty atmosphere. In this way he makes himself at home, looks at their pictures, reads diaries and letters, writers short greetings in guest books, walks around in the slippers of strangers
Once he spends the night in a strange bed. For the entire night he lies there with his heart pounding. He just grows bolder and bolder. Soon he doesn’t care whether the houses are empty or not. He has become his old self. Someone who hides in corners. Someone who goes unnoticed. It is the way he carried himself and lowers his gaze that enables him to get away with things.

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