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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Baron in the Trees, Italo Calvino

That wish to enter into an elusive element which had urged my brother into the trees, was still now working inside him unsatisfied, amking him long for a more intimate link, a relationship which would bind him to each leaf and twig and feather and flutter. It was the love which the hunter has for living things, and which he can only express by aiming his gun at them...

In all this frenzy of his there was no resentment against Viola, only remorse at having lost her, at not having known how to keep her tied to him, at having wounded her with a pride unjust and stupid. For, he understood now, she had always been faithful to him, and if she took a pair of other men about with her it merely meant that it was Cosimo alone she considered worthy of being her only lover, and all her whims and dissatisfactions were but an insatiable urge for the increase of their love and the refusal to admit it could reach a limit, and it was he, he, he, who had understood nothing of this and had goaded her till he lost her...

To explain what "books of complaints" were, Cosimo said: "Let's try and make one." He took a school notebook and hung it on the there by a string; everyone came there and wrote down whatever they found wrong. All sorts of things came out; the fishermen wrote about the price of fish, and the vineyard men about those tithes, and the shepherds about the borders of pastures, and the woodmen about the Commune's woods, and then there were all those who had relatives in prison, and those who had got lashes for some misdeed, and those who had it in for the nobles because of something to do with women; it was endless. Cosimo thought that even if it was a "book of complaints" it need not be quite so glum, and he got the idea of asking everyone to write down what they would like most. And again everyone went to put down their ideas, sometimes rather well. One wrote of the local cakes, one of the local soup; one wanted a blonde, one a couple of brunettes; one would have liked to sleep the whole day through, one to go mushrooming all year round; some wanted a carriage with four horses, some found a goat enough; some would have liked to see their dead mother again, some to meet the gods on Olympus. In fact, all the good in the world was written down in the exercise-book, or drawn - since as many did not know how to write - or even painted in colours. Cosimo wrote too - a name - Viola. The name he had been writing everywhere for years.


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