DICTIONARY OF THE CHAZARS (THE FEMALE EDITION) - Milorad Pavić
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A book can be a vineyard watered with rain or a vine-yard watered with wine. This one, like all diction-aries, is of the latter variety. A dictionary is a book that, while requiring little time every day, takes a lot of time through the years. This loss should not be underestimated. Especially if one takes into account that reading is, generally speaking, a dubious proposition. When used, a book can be cured or killed in the reading. It can be changed, fattened, or raped. Its course can be rechan-neled; it is constantly losing something; you drop letters through the lines, pages through your fingers, as new ones keep growing before your eyes, like cabbage. If you put it down tomorrow, you may find it like a stove gone cold, with no hot supper waiting for you any more. Moreover, today people do not have enough solitude to be able to read books, even dictionaries, without harm. But to this too there is an end. A book is like a scale—it tilts first to the right until it tilts to the left, forever. Its weight thus shifts from the right hand to the left, and something similar has happened in the head—-from the realm of hope, thoughts have moved to the realm of memory, and everything is over. The reader's ear may perhaps retain some of the saliva from the writer's mouth, words borne by the wind with a grain of sand at the bottom. Over the years, voices will settle around that grain, as in a shell, and one day it will turn into a pearl, into black goat-cheese, or into a void when the ears shut like a shell. And least of all does this depend on the sand.
In any event, to read such a thick book means to be alone for a long time, to be for a long time without the person whose presence you need, because four-handed reading is still not customary. This gives the writer a guilty conscience, and he will try to atone for it. Let that lovely woman with the quick eyes and languid hair who, in reading this dictionary and running through her fear as through a room, feels lonely, do the following. On the first Wednesday of the month, with the dictionary under her arm, let her go to the tea shop in the main square of town. Waiting for her there will be a young man who, like her, has just been overcome with a feeling of loneliness, wasting time by reading the same book. Let them sit down for a coffee together and compare the masculine and feminine exemplars of their books. They are different. When they compare the short passage in Dr. Dorothea Schultz's last letter, printed in italics in the one and the other exemplar, the book will fit together as a whole, like a game of dominoes, and they will need it no longer. Then let them give the lexicographer a good scolding, but let them be quick about it in the name of what comes next, for what comes next is their affair alone, and it is worth more than any reading.
I see how they lay their dinner out on top of the mailbox in the street and how they eat, embraced, sitting on their bicycles.
Belgrade, Regensburg, Belgrade
Povez: broširan, 338 str, 21 cm, latinica
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