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Zeno’s Conscience: quotes (19)

My deeply felt desire for novelty was satisfied by Giovanni Malfenti, so different from me and from all the people whose company and friendship I had sought in the past. Having gone though two university departments, I was fairly cultivated, thanks also to my long inertia, which I consider highly educational. He, on the contrary,…

Zeno’s Conscience: quotes (18)

Mother Nature wants this but cannot direct us openly, because at that time of life we haven’t the slightest thought of children, so she induces us to believe that our wife will also bring about a renewal of ourselves: a curious illusion not confirmed by any text. In fact, we live then, one beside the…

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…

Zeno’s Conscience: quotes (16)

I returned to the religion of my childhood and remained there for a long time. I imagined that my father heard me and I could tell him that the fault had been not mine but the doctor’s. The lie was of no importance because now he understood everything, and so did I. And for quite…

Zeno’s Conscience: quotes (15)

With great, ominously calm severity, he replied: “I explained to you the state of our knowledge at that instant. But who can say what may happen by tomorrow, or in half an hour’s time? By keeping your father alive, I have left the door open to all possibilities.” Then he put on his glasses, and…

Zeno’s Conscience: quotes (14)

More frightened than ever, I begged him not to apply the leeches. Then, quite calmly, he told me that the orderly had surely already applied them, because he had given the man instructions before leaving my father’s room. I became angry. Could anything be more wicked than recalling a sick man to consciousness, without the…

Zeno’s Conscience: quotes (13)

Weeping obscures our guilt and allows us to accuse fate, without contradiction. I wept because I was losing the father for whom I had always lived. No matter that I had given him scant company. Hadn’t my efforts to become a better man been aimed at affording him some satisfaction? The success I yearned for…

Zeno’s Conscience: quotes (12)

And left alone (this, too, was strange) I didn’t think about my father’s health, but instead, moved and – I may say – filled with proper filial respect, I regretted that for such a mind, aspiring to lofty goals, a finer education had not been possible. Today, as I write, approaching the age reached by…

Zeno’s Conscience: quotes (11)

It was obvious that if I had agreed to think about it with him, I would have given him consolation. But, on the contrary, as long as my father was alive, I felt combative (afterwards no longer); and I replied with one of those trite remarks heard every day in the cafés around the University:…

Zeno’s Conscience: quotes (10)

One evening toward the end of March, I was a bit late coming home. Nothing unusual: I had fallen into the hands of a learned friend, who wanted to expound to me some of his ideas about the origins of Christianity. For the first time I was obliged to think about those origins, yet I…