Monday, 1 September 2008

A Little Márai 1

Uncertain yet whether the title of the novella is better as The Real Thing, or The Genuine Article... (neither will quite do.) The woman who is narrating it is becoming estranged from her husband, proclaiming that she loves him, but really wishing to possess him, body and soul.

But he won't be possessed. There is some part of him hidden from her that she is determined to worm out of him. He is a good man, she says, an eminently good, proud, if somewhat undemonstrative man. She thinks his secrecy and reserve, his inability to completely give himself over to her, might be the result of a bad relationship between he and his mother in childhood, but she doesn't know.

They have a baby, but the baby dies in infancy, of an infection. She thinks he blames her for it. He never says so. She feels so desperate she goes to confession, and the old priest tells her she is being vain and greedy, that souls and secrets are not to be possessed.

Then one day he phones home from work - he is a wealthy industrialist - to say he has left his wallet at home and is sending a clerk to fetch it. She detects a certain excitement in his voice and, for the first time in her life, goes through his wallet. He is a very tidy man, the wallet is in perfect order. But in the innermost pocket of it she finds a lilac ribbon that does not belong to her. It has no scent, it smells only of his wallet.

An excerpt in the next post.

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