Zeno’s Conscience: quotes (17)

IN THE MIND of a young man from a middle-class family, the concept of human life is associated with that of a career, and in early youth the career is that of Napoleon I. This is not to say that the young man dreams of becoming emperor, for you can remain at a much lower level and still resemble Napoleon. The most intense life is narrated, in synthesis, by the most rudimentary sound, that of the sea-wave, which, once formed, changes at every instant until it dies! I expected therefore also to assume form and to dissolve, like Napoleon and like a wave.

My life could provide only a single note with no variation, fairly high and envied by some, but horribly tedious. Throughout my life my friends maintained the same opinion of me, and I believe that I, too, since arriving at the age of reason, have not much changed the notion I formed of myself.