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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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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 Master and Margarita

First of all let us reveal the secret which the master did not wish to reveal to Ivanushka. His beloved’s name was Margarita1 Nikolaevna. Everything the master told the poor poet about her was the exact truth. He described his beloved correctly. She was beautiful and intelligent. To that one more thing must be added: it can be said with certainty that many women would have given anything to exchange their lives for the life of Margarita Nikolaevna. The childless thirty-year-old Margarita was the wife of a very prominent specialist, who, moreover, had made a very important discovery of state significance. Her husband was young, handsome, kind, honest, and adored his wife. The two of them, Margarita and her husband, occupied the entire top floor of a magnificent house in a garden on one of the lanes near the Arbat. A charming place! Anyone can be convinced of it who wishes to visit this garden. Let them inquire of me, and I will give them the address, show them the way – the house stands untouched to this day.

Mikhail Bulgakov “The Master and Margarita (Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky)”

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Sputnik Sweetheart

 

Sumire couldn’t work out what she meant. Knife and fork poised in mid-air, she gave it some thought. “Sputnik? You mean the first satellite the Soviets sent up, in the fifties? Jack Kerouac was an American novelist. I guess they do overlap in terms of generation…”

from Haruki Murakami “Sputnik Sweetheart (Translated by Philip Gabriel)”

 

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The Decay of The Angel

Where the cypress grove gave away to a grove of cryptomeria, there stood a lone nemu tree. The soft clusters of leaves in among the hard needles of the cryptomerias were like wraiths, like afternoon slumber. They made him think of Thailand. A white butterfly from the nemu led him on his way.

from Yukio Mishima “The Decay of The Angel” (Translated by Edward G. Seidensticker)

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The Decay of The Angel

I have known secret pride and pleasure in seeing the concept on the horizon gradually take shape. I have put my hand in from outside the world and created something, and I have not tasted the sensation of being brought into the world. I have not felt myself brought in like laundry brought in before a shower. No rain has fallen to give me drowning, my clarity has been confident of proper sensual rescue. For the ship has always passed. It has never stopped. The sea winds have turned everything to spotted marble, the sun has turned the heart into crystal.

from Yukio Mishima “The Decay of The Angel” (Translated by Edward G. Seidensticker)

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My Name Is Red

Oh, why was I there at the window just when Black rode my on his white steed? Why did I open the shutters intuitively at that exact moment and stare at him so long from behind the snowy branches of the pomegranate tree? I can’t tell you for sure.
from Orhan Pamuk “My Name Is Red”(Translated by Erdağ M. Göknar)

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