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The Plague

Once they were on the pier they saw the sea spread out before them, a gently heaving expanse of deep-piled velvet, supple and sleek as a creature of the wild. They sat down on a boulder facing the open. Slowly the waters rose and sank, and with their tranquil breathing sudden oily glints formed and flickered over the surface in a haze of broken lights. Before them the darkness stretched out into infinity. Rieux could feel under his hand the gnarled, weather-worn visage of the rocks, and a strange happiness possessed him. Turning to Tarrou, he caught a glimpse on his friend’s face of the same happiness, a happiness that forgot nothing, not even murder.

Albert Camus “The Plague (Translated by Stuart Gilbert )”

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When We Were Orphans

For the truth is, the longer I had been in Shanghai, the more I had come to despise the so-called leaders of this community. Almost every day my investigations had revealed yet another piece of negligence, corruption or worse on their part down the years. And yet in all the days since my arrival, I had not come across one instance of honest shame, a single acknowledgement that were it not for the prevarications, the short-sightedness, often the downright dishonesty of those left in charge, the situation would never have reached its present level of crisis. At one point that morning, I found myself at the Shanghai Club, meeting with three eminent members of the “elite.” And faced anew with their hollow pomposity, their continued denial of their own culpability in the whole sorry affair, I felt an exhilaration at the prospect of ridding my life of such people once and for all. Indeed, at such moments, I felt an utter certainty that I had come to the right decision; that the assumption shared by virtually everyone here—that it was somehow my sole responsibility to resolve the crisis—was not only unfounded, but worthy of the highest contempt. I pictured the astonishment that would soon appear on these same faces at the news of my departure—the outrage and panic that would rapidly follow—and I will admit such thoughts brought me much satisfaction.

Kazuo Ishiguro “When We Were Orphans”

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The Buried Giant

You would have searched a long time for the sort of winding lane or tranquil meadow for which England later became celebrated. There were instead miles of desolate, uncultivated land; here and there rough-hewn paths over craggy hills or bleak moorland. Most of the roads left by the Romans would by then have become broken or overgrown, often fading into wilderness. Icy fogs hung over rivers and marshes, serving all too well the ogres that were then still native to this land. The people who lived nearby—one wonders what desperation led them to settle in such gloomy spots—might well have feared these creatures, whose panting breaths could be heard long before their deformed figures emerged from the mist. But such monsters were not cause for astonishment. People then would have regarded them as everyday hazards, and in those days there was so much else to worry about. How to get food out of the hard ground; how not to run out of firewood; how to stop the sickness that could kill a dozen pigs in a single day and produce green rashes on the cheeks of children.

From Kazuo Ishiguro “The Buried Giant”

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A Pale View of Hills

Niki, the name we finally gave younger daughter, is not an abbreviation; it was a compromise I reached with her father. For paradoxically it was he who wanted to give her a Japanese name, and I— perhaps out of some selfish desire not to be reminded of the past—insisted on an English one. He finally agreed to Niki, thinking it had some vague echo of the East about it.

from Kazuo Ishiguro “A Pale View of Hills”

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The Conquest of Happiness

The special kind of boredom from which modern urban populations suffer is intimately bound up with their separation from the life of Earth. It makes life hot and dusty and thirsty, like a pilgrimage in the desert. Among those who are rich enough to choose their way of life, the particular brand of unendurable boredom from which they suffer is due, paradoxical as this may seem, to their fear of boredom. In flying from the fructifying kind of boredom, they fall a prey to the other far worse kind. A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy can live.

Bertrand Russell “Chapter 4: Boredom and Excitement – The Conquest of Happiness”

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The Conquest of Happiness

The only ultimate cure for this evil is, however, an increase of toleration on the part of the public. The best way to increase toleration is to multiply the number of individuals who enjoy real happiness and do not therefore find their chief pleasure in the infliction of pain upon their fellow-men.

Bertrand Russell “Chapter 9: Fear of Public Opinion – The Conquest of Happiness”

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The Conquest of Happiness

The mother who is conventionally called self-sacrificing is, in a great majority of cases, exceptionally selfish towards her children, for, important as parenthood is an element in life, it is not satisfying if it is treated as the whole of life, and the unsatisfied parent is likely to be an emotionally grasping parent. It is important, therefore, quite as much in the interests of the children as in those of the mother, that motherhood should not cut her off from all other interests and pursuits. If she has a real vocation for the care of children and that amount of knowledge which will enable her to care adequately for her own children, her skill ought to be more widely used, and she ought to be engaged professionally in the care of some group of children which may be expected to include her own.

Bertrand Russell “Chapter 13: Family – The Conquest of Happiness”

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