Tuesday, 21 September 2010

...of a house asleep

She looked into the courtyard; nothing was happening there. In the flat likewise, there seemed to be nothing happening. Her ear stuck to the door, Zazie couldn't perceive any noise. She went out of her room quietly. The livingroomdiningroom was dark and silent. Walking putting one foot down just touching the other like in the game when you're deciding who's to go first, running her fingers over the wall and the furniture and things, it's even more fun when you shut your eyes, she reached the other door which she opened with considerable precaution. This other room was equally dark and silent, someone was peacefully sleeping there. Zazie reshut the door, started walking backwards, which is always fun, and after an extremely long time she came upon a third and other door which she opened with no less considerable precaution than previously. She found herself in the lobby which was illuminated not without difficulty by a window embellished with red and blue panes. One more door to open and Zazie discovers the object of her excursion: the lav.

[Zazie In The Metro, Queneau, R.]

...of serving wine

Turandot served him in meditative silence. Charles knocked back his beaujolais, wiped his moustache with the back of his hand, and then looked absent-mindedly in the direction of the outside world. To do this you had to raise your head, and then you only saw feet, ankles, trouser turn-ups, and sometimes, if you were very lucky, a whole dog, a dachshund. A cage hanging near the fanlight harboured a sad parrot. Turandot refilled Charles' glass and pored himself a nip. Mado Ptits-pieds came and installed herself behind the counter beside the boss and broke the silence.

[Zazie In The Metro, Queneau, R.]

...of intoxication

In the kitchen they announce that she has refused the orange duck, that she is ill, there is no other explanation for it. Here they are talking of other things. The meaningless shapes of the magnolias caress the eyes of the solitary man. Once again Anne Desbaresdes takes her glass, which has just been refilled, and drinks. Unlike the others, its warmth fires her witch's loins. Her breasts, heavy on either side of the heavy flower, suffer from its sudden collapse, and hurt her. Her mouth, filled with wine, encompasses a name she does not speak. All this is accomplished in painful silence.

[Moderato Cantabile, Duras, M.]

...of etiquette

The salmon, chilled in its original form, is served on a silver platter that the wealth of three generations has helped to buy. Dressed in black, and with white gloves, a man carries it like a royal child, and offers it to each guest in the silence of the start of the dinner. It is not proper to talk about it.

[Moderato Cantabile, Duras, M.]

...of them and us

"I'd like you to tell me now how they came not to speak to each other any more."
The child appeared in the doorway, saw that she was still there, and ran off again.
"I don't know. Perhaps because of the long silences that grew up between them at night, then, at other times, silences they found more and more difficult to overcome."
The same trouble that had closed Anne Desbaresdes's eyes the day before now made her hunch her shoulders forwards dejectedly.
"One night they pace back and forth in their rooms, like caged animals, not knowing what's happening to them. They begin to suspect what it is, and are afraid."
"Nothing can satisfy them any longer."
"They're overwhelmed by what is happening - they can't talk about it yet. Perhaps it will take months. Months for them to know."

[Moderato Cantabile, Duras, M.]

Sunday, 19 September 2010

...of suspense

The silence in the room was like that silence in the kitchen when, on a drowsy afternoon, the ticking of the clock would stop - and there would steal over her a mysterious uneasiness that lasted until she realized what was wrong. A few times before she had known such silence - once in the Sears and Roebuck store the moment before she suddenly became a thief, and again that April afternoon in the MacKeans' garage. It was the forewarning hush that comes before an unknown trouble, a silence caused, not by lack of sounds, but by a waiting, a suspense. The soldier did not take those strange eyes from her and she was scared.

[The Member Of The Wedding, McCullers, C.]

...of unexpected guests

Frankie sat on the bottom step of the stairs to her room, staring into the kitchen. But although it gave her a kind of pain, she had to think about the wedding. She remembered the way her brother and the bride had looked when she walked into the living-room, that morning at eleven o'clock. There had been in the house a sudden silence, for Jarvis had turned off the radio when they came in; after the long summer, when the radio had gone on day and night, so that no one heard it any more, the curious silence had startled Frankie. She stood in the door-way, coming from the hall, and the first sight of her brother and the bride had shocked her heart. Together they made in her this feeling that she could not name. But it was like the feeling of the spring, only more sudden and more sharp. There was the same tightness and in the same queer way she was afraid. Frankie thought until her mind was dizzy and her foot had gone to sleep.

[The Member Of The Wedding, McCullers, C.]

...of a calm

In the evening I started and drove out to sea before a gentle wind from the south-west, slowly and steadily; and the island grew smaller and smaller, and the lank spire of smoke dwindled to a finer and finer line against the hot sunset. The ocean rose up around me, hiding that low dark patch from my eyes. The daylight, the trailing glory of the sun, went streaming out of the sky, was drawn aside like some luminous curtain, and at last I looked into that blue gulf of immensity that the sunshine hides, and saw the floating hosts of the stars. The sea was silent, the sky was silent; I was alone with the night and silence.

[The Island Of Doctor Moreau, Wells, H. G.]

Monday, 13 September 2010

...of dead clocks

Theodor's room was the only warm room in the house. Since Frau Bernheim had started economising, the porter was only allowed to turn on the heat when the temperature outside was down to 5 Centigrade. A savage chill clung to the furniture, the rugs and the windows in all the rooms. They resembled the cold, clear, tidy and eerily clean rooms in the windows of furniture shops. Everything was pristine and unused. The polish gleamed like new. The carpets seemed never to have picked up any dust. Several of them had been taken up Frau Bernheim and stood in the corners of the rooms. They rested there, weighty and confident, as though they expected to be collected by someone. In the places where they had been, the flooring was linoleum, soft and smooth and brick-red - like india-rubber underfoot. Of the many clocks that Herr Felix Bernheim had had put into his redecorated house - when he was alive there had been one in every room, because of his weakness for them, and his knowledge that time was precious - only the one on the mantel in the dining room was still kept going. Frau Bernheim feared that the delicate mechanisms would run down with constant use. She left he dead clocks in their places, one in every room. From their meaningless white and silver faces, and the hands showing the same frozen hour for years, there radiated an eerie silence that stalked the frosty emptiness of the rooms.

[Right & Left, Roth, J.]

...of film

"The year is 1999. You are looking at a newsreel of an earlier time. A man is standing in a room in America. It is you, David, more or less. What can the two of you say to each other? How can you empty out the intervening decades? It's possible to put your right hand to a movie screen and come away with a split second of light, say a taxicab turning a corner, and it's right there on your thumb, Forty-ninth Street and Madison Avenue. You can talk to the screen and it may answer. You barely remember the man you're looking at. Ask him anything. He knows all the answers. That's why he's silent. He has come through time to answer your questions. He is standing still but moving. He is silent with answers. You have twenty seconds to ask the questions." (I held on Austin Wakely, motionless against the wall, expressionless, and quietly counted off the seconds - one through twenty.) "We come now to the end of the recorded silence."

[Americana, DeLillo, D.]

...of impatience

"I used to be a mailboy in the Justice Department in Washington," he said. "I felt I was becoming transparent. I had the feeling that after I ate dinner, people could see the food in my stomach. That's just one of the things that was happening to me. I began to fear that chunks of government buildings would dislodge and fall on top of me. But I think the worst thing of all was when I was walking on a crowded street. You know how people jockey back and forth, the fast walkers trying to overtake the slow walkers. There's always a lot of shoving and the fast walkers are always stepping on the slow ones and knocking their shoes off. I was a fast walker. I was always hurrying even when I was just going for an aimless stroll, and I used to get annoyed when slow walkers got in my way. One day I was trying to get around an old man who kept drifting toward the curb and blocking my path and suddenly I found myself shouting at him in my own head, shouting inwardly and silently: LOOK OUT! LOOK OUT! I never actually spoke the words. I just shouted them mentally. I began to do that all the time. LOOK OUT, I would say to people. MOVE! MOVE! And I could see the words in my head in big block letters like in a cartoon. Then one day a woman slowed down suddenly and I almost crashed into her. I found myself shouting a new word in my head: DIE! If I had said it aloud she probably would have died. It was really a hideous inner scream and I could see the word in my head in red letters with a big exclamation point. I began to realise I was abnormal. I was a person who walked along the street mentally shouting DIE at innocent people. After several months of this I tried to make a conscious effort to stop shouting the word. But it was too late. It just popped into my head automatically. DIE! DIE! I'll tell you the kind of person I was. I was the kind of person who's always falling in love with the wives of his best friends."

[Americana, DeLillo, D.]

...of summer in a small town

Summer in a small town can be deadly, even worse in a way than slum summers or the deep wet summers of gulf ports. It isn't the deadliness of filth or despair and it doesn't afflict everyone. But there are days when a terrible message seems to be passing from sunlight to shadow at the edge of a striped afternoon in the returning fathoms of time. Summer unfolds slowly, a carpeted silence rolling out across expanding steel, and the days begin to rhyme, distance swelling with the bridges, heat bending the air, small breaks in the pavement, those days when nothing seems to live on earth but butterflies, the tranquillized mantis, the spider scaling the length of the mudcaked broken rake inside the dark garage. A scream seems imminent at every window. The menace of the history of quiet lives is that when the moment comes, the slow opened motion of the mouth, the sound which erupts will shatter everything that moves for miles around. The threat is at its worst this summer, in the wide rows of sunlight, as old people cross the lawns, humming like insects, as they sit in the painted gray stillness of spare rooms, breezing themselves with magazines about Siam and bare-breasted Zanzibar, as they stand on porches trying to gather in the shade, as they eat ice cream in the drugstore, two spinsters revolving on their stools beneath the halted fans, and all will come apart when the moment arrives. It is not felt every day and only some people can feel it. It may not be as violent as slums, tar melting on rooftops and boys wailing their hate at white helmets, but in the very silence and craft of its rhyming days summer in a small town can invert one's emotions with the speed of insanity.

[Americana, DeLillo, D.]

...of evasion

One summer she bought two dolls, one for Jane and one for Mary. Jane put both dolls on her dresser. But my mother objected and and so Mary's doll was put into Mary's abandoned room. Jane was always trying to discuss these things with me. In her confusion she was comforted by the sound of voices. It was an article of her faith that tragedy could be averted, or at least detained in the sweep of its tidal and incomprehensible darkness, by two reasoning people sitting in a familiar room and discussing the matter. I didn't want to talk about it. I feared silence less than the involvement of words. Distance, silence, darkness. In the vastness of these things I hoped to evade all need to understand and to cancel all possibility of explaining. Jane came into my room with a pot of tea and closed the door behind her.

[Americana, DeLillo, D.]

...of basketball

I changed to foul shots for a while, then to left-hand hooks and finally to the breathtakingly intricate pattern of my double headfake turn-around jump shot. In that cloistered office I played my silent game. I experienced no sense of boyish self-amusement. No, I played quite seriously, my tie bellying out at each jump shot, sweat blossoming under my arms. No one, not even Binky, knew about these basketball games. I had been my team's leading scorer in prep school; first in scoring, last in assists. Since then the game had followed me, the high amber shine of the gymnasium floor, the squeak of rubber sneakers, the crowd, the crowd, and at parties years later I would turn a cocktail peanut between my fingers and gaze at a distant fishbowl. Basketball has always seemed to me the most American of sports, a smalltown thing, two kids in a driveway and a daddy-built backboard. And now I jumped, released and missed. I picked up the paper ball, stepped back ten feet for an easy one-hander, and missed again. Six times I missed from that distance. The phone rang and I shot again and missed again. I knew I wouldn't answer the phone until I had made that simple shot. I was perspiring heavily as I fired twice more and missed both times. Cursing, I picked up the ball again. The ringing stopped and I figured that Binky had answered on her phone. I went back to precisely the same spot. This time I hit. I stood there for a moment, trembling, then went to the sofa and dropped. The door opened and Binky came in.

[Americana, DeLillo, D.]

...of the eve of an affair

We met for a drink in one of those oxblood pubs on the East Side where the laughter and the tinkling chatter seemed canned, subject to volume control. I established a format by showing up five minutes late, knowing that Jennifer would arrive precisely on time; that was the kind of girl she was. We ordered drinks and talked cheerfully for a few minutes, mostly about network people we both hated. Then we lapsed into a massive silence as if suddenly realising that all possible communication between us had been exhausted in ten routine sentences. I knew I was going to like Jennifer. I liked the way she held to her silence. In that movie-set atmosphere she seemed a librarian-mystic. Her face was thin and not quite pretty (but at the same time almost beautiful) and it was partly concealed by her long hair; purposely, I thought, as if the face sought refuge from time to time. Her hands could not keep still and there was evidence of fingernail-biting. She looked into the empty ashtray. I put my hand beneath her chin and raised her head, soft eyes shifting, two spoonfuls of tea. It wasn't long before I was discussing how important it was to take certain precautions. I was a married man, after all, and we might easily be seen by someone from the office. I outlined a series of procedural measures covering lunch, drinks, dinner, inter-office phone calls, office parties and so forth. I did this not because I really cared whether someone might find out but because intensity and suspense are fundamental to the maintenance of a successful affair.

[Americana, DeLillo, D.]

Sunday, 5 September 2010

...of sleep

She lit a small blue-shaded lamp and left me alone. I had a stupid impulse to draw my cigarette case out of my pocket. My hands still shook, but I felt happy. He was alive. He was peacefully asleep. So it was his heart - was it? - that had let him down... The same as his mother. He was better, there was hope. I would get all the heart specialists in the world to have him saved. His presence in the next room, the faint sound of breathing, gave me a sense of security, of peace, of wonderful relaxation. And as I sat there and listened, and clasped my hands, I thought of all the years that had passed, of our short, rare meetings and I knew that now, as soon as he could listen to me, I should tell him that whether he liked it or not I would never be far from him any more. The strange dream I had had, the belief in some momentous truth he would impart to me before dying - now seemed vague, abstract, as if it had been drowned in some warm flow of simpler, more human emotion, in the wave of love I felt for the man who was sleeping beyond that half-opened door. How had we managed to drift apart? Why had I always been so silly and sullen, and shy during our short interviews in Paris? I would go away presently and spend the night in the hotel, or perhaps they could give me a room at the hospital - just until I could see him? For a moment it seemed to me that the faint rhythm of the sleeper's breath had been suspended, that he had awaked and made a light clamping sound, before sinking again into sleep: now the rhythm continued, so low that I could hardly distinguish it from my own breath, as I sat and listened. Oh, I would tell him thousands of things - I would talk to him about The Prismatic Bezel and Success, and The Funny Mountain, and Albinos in Black, and The Back of the Moon, and Lost Property, and The Doubtful Asphodel - all these books that I knew as well as if I had written them myself. And he would talk, too. How little I knew his life! But now I was learning something every instant. That door standing slightly ajar was the best link imaginable. That gentle breathing was telling me more of Sebastian than I had ever known before. If I could have smoked, my happiness would have been perfect. A spring clanked in the couch as I shifted my position slightly, and I was afraid that it might have disturbed his sleep. But no: the soft sound was there, following a thin trail which seemed to skirt time itself, now dipping into a hollow, now appearing again - steadily traveling across a landscape formed of the symbols of silence - darkness, and curtains, and a glow of blue light at my elbow.

[The Real Life Of Sebastian Knight, Nabokov, V.]

...of a man changed

The appearance of The Doubtful Asphodel in the spring of 1935 coincided with Sebastian's last attempt to see Nina. When he was told by one of her sleek-haired young ruffians that she wished to be rid of him for ever, he returned to London and stayed there a couple of months, making a pitiful effort to deceive solitude by appearing in public as much as he could. A thin, mournful, and silent figure, he would be seen in this place or that, wearing a scarf round his neck even in the warmest dining-room, exasperating hostesses with his absent-mindedness and his gentle refusal to be drawn out, wandering away in the middle of a party, or being discovered in the nursery, engrossed in a jig-saw puzzle. One day near Charing Cross, Helen Pratt saw Clare into a bookshop, and a few seconds later, as she was continuing her way, she ran into Sebastian. He coloured slightly as he shook hands with Miss Pratt, and then accompanied her to the underground station. She was thankful he had not appeared a minute earlier, and still more thankful when he did not trouble to allude to the past. He told her instead an elaborate story about a couple of men who had attempted to swindle him at a game of poker the night before.

[The Real Life Of Sebastian Knight, Nabokov, V.]

...of a Russian farewell

After having tumbled silently into Finland, we lived for a time in Helsingfors. Then our ways parted. My mother acting on the suggestion of an old friend took me to Paris, where I continued my education. And Sebastian went to London and Cambridge. His mother had left him a comfortable income and whatever worries assailed him in later life, they were never monetary. Just before he left, we sat down, the three of us, for the minute of silence according to Russian tradition. I remember the way my mother sat, with her hands in her lap twirling my father's wedding ring (as she usually did when inactive) which she wore on the same finger as her own and which was so large that she had tied it to her own with black thread. I remember Sebastian's pose too; he was dressed in a dark-blue suit and he sat with his legs crossed, the upper foot gently swinging. I stood up first, then he, then my mother. He had made us promise not to see him to the boat, so it was there, in that whitewashed room, that we said good-bye. My mother made a quick sign of the cross over his inclined face and a moment later we saw him through the window, getting into the taxi with his bag, in the last hunch-backed attitude of his departing.

[The Real Life Of Sebastian Knight, Nabokov, V.]

...of an older brother

I remember Sebastian as a boy, six years my senior, gloriously messing about with water-colours in the homely aura of a stately kerosene lamp whose pink silk shade seems painted by his own very wet brush, now that it glows in my memory. I see myself, a child of four or five, on tiptoe, straining and fidgeting, trying to get a better glimpse of the paintbox beyond my half-brother's moving elbow; sticky reds and blues, so well-licked and worn that the enamel gleams in their cavities. There is a slight clatter every time Sebastian mixes his colours on the inside of the tin lid, and the water in the glass before him is clouded with magic hues. His dark hair, closely cropped, renders a small birthmark visible above his rose-red diaphanous ear - I have clambered on to a chair by now - but he continues to pay no attention to me, until with a precarious lunge, I try to dab the bluest cake in the box, and then, with a shove of his shoulder he pushes me away, still not turning, still as silent and distant, as always in regard to me. I remember peering over the banisters and seeing him come up the stairs, after school, dressed in the black regulation uniform with that leather belt I secretly coveted, mounting slowly, slouchingly, lugging his piebald satchel behind him, patting the banisters and now and then pulling himself up over two or three steps at a time. My lips pursed, I squeeze out a white spittal which falls down and down, always missing Sebastian; and this I do, not because I want to annoy him, but merely as a wistful and vain attempt to make him notice my existence. I have a vivid recollection, too, of his riding a bicycle with very low handlebars along a sun-dappled path in the park of our countryplace, spinning on slowly, the pedals motionless, and I trotting behind, trotting a little faster as his sandalled foot presses down the pedals; I am doing my best to keep pace with his tick-tick-sizzling backwheel, but he heeds me not and soon leaves me hopelessly behind, very out of breath and still trotting.

[The Real Life Of Sebastian Knight, Nabokov, V.]

Friday, 3 September 2010

...of a funeral procession

They became silent for a moment. The broad road leading to St. Ouen stretched out quite straight as far as the eye could reach; and over the plain went the procession, pitifully small, lost, as it were, on that highway, along which there flowed a river of mud. A line of palings bordered it on either side, waste land extended both to right and left, while afar off one only saw some factory chimneys and a few lofty white houses, standing alone, obliquely to the road. They passed through the Clignancourt fete, with booths, circuses, and roundabouts on either side, all shivering in the abandonment of winter, empty dancing cribs, mouldy swings, and a kind of stage homestead, 'The Picardy Farm,' looking dismally sad between its broken fences.

[The Masterpiece, Zola, E.]

-submitted by Pearce, M. A.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

...of understanding

Consciousness returned to him amid a smooth, fluid motion. He saw the crenellated fringe of the forest, processing slowly past him on his right, then, slightly raising his head, observed, at first uncomprehendingly, these two legs, these huge soldier's boots, sliding along the frozen road. He grasped that it was himself, this inanimate body, being pulled forward by the woman on her sledge. Sometimes the boots slithered along on the back of the heel, sometimes on their sides. Through half-closed eyelids he watched this rather bumpy haulage and felt as if nothing belonged to him, neither the frozen shadow that was this body, nor what was visible of him. There was nothing left of him. At the foot of an uphill slope the woman paused to catch her breath. They looked at one another for a long time, motionless, silent, understanding everything.

[A Life's Music, Makine, A.]

...of acceptance

His aunt listened to him in silence, let him talk for a long time, repeating himself. She sensed that this was how he would get used to his new life. His uncle returned from the town about midday and was equally taciturn. Weeks later Alexei would guess that behind this silent acceptance of his coming, and the danger of his coming, there doubtless lay an unspoken desire to make him understand: 'Now look, we're plain country folk. We welcome you with open arms. We've got no grudges against our own kin, who forgot all about us.' But at the time all he needed was to be able to tell them his story, to win approval, to be reassured that, in any event, even if he had stayed in Moscow, he could not have done anything for his parents. He also realised that, in a few swift moves, they were already preparing for his clandestine existence in that house. Their economy with words and actions reminded him that the epidemic of fear his own family had known in '37 had made its assault on these people much earlier. At the end of the twenties, from the time when collectivisation began in that part of the world. They had lost their two children in the famine that followed it, and had hidden fugitives before.

[A Life's Music, Makine, A.]

...of remembering

I get up, cross the waiting-room and climb the old wooden staircase. Feeling my way, I come to the bay window of the restaurant. The darkness is complete. Running my hand along the wall, I reach a dead-end, stumble over a pile of sleeping-car blankets, decide to abandon my investigation. A very slow chord resounds lingeringly at the other end of the corridor. I make my way towards it, guided by the fading sound, push open a door and find myself in a passage into which a little light now filters. Lined up along the walls stands banners, placards with portraits of the Party leaders, all the apparatus for demonstrations. The passageway leads to a room that is yet more cluttered. Two wardrobes with open doors, pyramids of chairs, piles of sheets. From behind the wardrobes shines a beam of light. I move forward, feeling as if I had caught up with the tail-end of a dream and were taking my place in it. A man, whom I see in profile, is sitting at a grand piano. A suitcase with nickel-plated corners stands behind his chair. It would be easy to mistake him for the old man sleeping on the pages of his Pravada. He is dressed in a similar overcoat, longer perhaps, and wearing an identical black shapka. An electric torch laid to the left of the keyboard throws light on the man's hands. He has fingers that are nothing like a musician's fingers. Great, rough, lumpy knuckles, tanned and wrinkled. The fingers move about on the keyboard without depressing the keys, pausing, springing to life, accelerating their silent course, getting carried away in a feverish flight: one can hear the fingernails tapping on the wooden keys. Suddenly, at the very height of this mute pandemonium, one hand loses control, crashes down on the keyboard, a shower of notes bursts forth. I see that the man, doubtless amused by his own clumsiness, breaks off his soundless scales and begins emitting little suppressed chuckles, the quiet mirth of a mischievous old man. He even raises one hand and presses it to his mouth to restrain these splutters of laughter... All at once I realise he is weeping.

[A Life's Music, Makine, A.]

...of history

After a few such laps round the circuit, the mind comes back to the dull geniality of the present day and lapses into helpless silence. These fine phrases explain everything and nothing. When confronted by the evidence of this night, this sleeping mass, with its smell of wet overcoats, weary bodies, alcohol fumes and warm tinned food, they fade away. For how can one sit in judgement on this old man as he lies there on this spread-out newspaper, a human being touching in his resignation, and quite insufferable for the same reason, a man who has doubtless lived through the empire's two great wars, survived the purges, the famines, but who nevertheless thinks he deserves nothing better than this resting-place on a floor covered in spittle and cigarette ends? Or the young mother who has just metamorphosed from Madonna into wooden idol, with slanting eyes and the features of Buddha? If I woke them and asked them about their lives they would unflinchingly declare that the country where they lived was, give or take a few delayed trains, a paradise. And if in steely tones the loudspeaker were suddenly to announce the outbreak of war, the whole mass of them would set off, ready to endure the war as a matter of course, ready to suffer, ready to sacrifice themselves, with an utterly natural acceptance of hunger, of death, or of life in the filth of this station, here amid the cold of the great plains that stretch beyond the tracks.

[A Life's Music, Makine, A.]

...of a date

The bar of the hotel had livened up around them now. The waiter, who had hitherto ignored them, came and asked them what they'd have, and they ordered two bourbons. They remained silent while waiting for the drinks, both somewhat embarrassed, exchanging a glance now and then. The waiter finally brought their bourbons and put a dish of peanuts on the table. Leaning forward occasionally to take a peanut, Anna Bruckhardt and Monsieur, still silent, looked at the decoration on the walls, examined the list of drinks. Monsieur could certainly have reanimated the conversation and he thought of doing so by throwing himself into another anecdote.

[Monsieur, Toussaint, J-P.]

...of economy

In his office, Monsieur worked at keeping his eyes down, and even closed them sometimes, fiat lux, when he was alone. If, in the course of a discussion, a divergence of views happened to arise, he tried not to rock the boat, Monsieur, contenting himself in the thought that he alone was in a position to fully savour his silence. His interlocutors, what's more, quite liked him; and some, without going so far as applauding or flattering him, even found him affable, because of a certain way he had of smiling economically so as not to tarnish his image as a man of discourse.

[Monsieur, Toussaint, J-P.]