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Danilo Kiš | by DEVOLVE
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Danilo Kiš

the knife with the

rosewood

handle

 

The story that I am about to tell, a story born in doubt and perplexity, has only the misfortune (some call it fortune) of being true: it was recorded by the hands of honorable people and reliable witnesses. But to be true in the way its author dreams about, it would be told in Romanian, Hungarian, Ukrainian, or Yiddish: or, rather, in a mixture of all these languages. Then, by the logic of chance and of murky, deep, unconscious happenings, through the consciousness of the narrator, there would flash also a Russian word or two, now a tender one like telyatina, now a hard one like kinjal. If the narrator, therefore, could reach the unattainable, terrifying moment of Babel, the humble pleadings and awful beseechings of Hanna Krzyewska would resound in Romanian, in Polish, in Ukrainian (as if here death were only the consequence of some great and fatal misunderstanding), and then just before the death rattle and final calm in her incoherence would turn into the prayer for the dead, spoken in Hebrew, the language of being and dying.

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Taken on March 18, 2011