One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Friday, November 25, 2016

Excerpt: Chateaubriand's Mémoires d'outre-tombe ("Memoirs from Beyond the Grave")

Now I come to a moment when I need strength to confess my weakness. The man who attempts his own life shows the feebleness of his character rather than the power of his soul.

I owned a hunting rifle whose worn trigger often fired when un-cocked. I charged this gun with three bullets, and went to a remote part of the Great Mall. I cocked the weapon, placed the muzzle in my mouth, and struck the butt on the ground: I repeated the attempt several times: the gun did not fire; the appearance of a gamekeeper altered my resolution. An unconscious and involuntary fatalist, I concluded my hour had not yet come, and I deferred the execution of my plan to another day. If I had killed myself, all I have achieved would have been buried with me; nothing would have been known of the tale which led to my catastrophe; I would have swelled the crowd of nameless unfortunates, I would not have induced anyone to follow the trail of my sorrows, as a wounded man leaves a trail of blood.

Those who might be troubled by these scenes, and be tempted to imitate these follies, those who might attach themselves to my memory by means of my illusions, must remember that they hear only a dead man’s voice. Reader, whom I shall never know, nothing remains: nothing is left of me but that which I am in the hands of the living God who has judged me.

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