In this court decisions are made by majority vote; however, experience has shown it is better to go by the opinion of the minority, which is perfectly natural, for the number of righteous judges is very small, and every one agrees that those with poor judgment are too numerous to count.
There is a narrow passage between the sepulchre and the wall nearest to it, so that he who would pass through it can only do so with difficulty, and has to drag himself through the stone work. There is a common fable that no one who is living in mortal sin can pass through this place. This I consider to be a fable, for all of us passed through it; whether we were all in a state of grace, God only knows.
(Felix Fabri: The Wanderings of Felix Fabri)
Note About the Author Picture
No known image exists of Felix Fabri (1441-1502), the Swiss/German monk who made a two pilgrimages to the Holy Land in the 1480s and kept a detailed diary of his journeys.
The image above, therefore, is of another unknown monk, known in Hungarian history as Anonymus, which is Latin for ‘nameless’; he was the notary of King Béla III and author of the Gesta Hungarorum, the first history of Hungary in the beginning of the 13th century.
On the Continent learned persons love to quote Aristotle, Horace, Montaigne and show off their knowledge; in England only uneducated people show off their knowledge, and nobody quotes Latin and Greek authors in the course of the conversation, unless he has never read them.
(George Mikes: How To Be An Alien)
Photo credit: Fortepan/Becságh István/Forgács Károly, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Zaragoza. Apart from two nuns and an old lady, I am the only visitor in the Bellas Artes Museum, which has a section devoted to archaeology. The nuns overtake me at the rate of one century a minute and then I am truly alone in the prehistory of Spain.
(Cees Nooteboom: Roads to Santiago)
Zaragoza. Junto a dos monjas y una anciana, soy el único visitante en el museo de Bellas Artes, que albergaba también un departamento de arqueología. Las monjas me adelantan a una velocidad de un siglo por minuto y entonces es cuando estoy realmente sólo en la prehistoria española.
Well, anyway, I’ve got to keep on living now. And life isn’t a bore, absolutely not. Life was only a bore for Gogol, and King Solomon. Once you get to thirty, it’s worth having a shot at another thirty, yes, indeed. ‘Man is mortal’ – that’s my opinion. But if we’ve already been born, well, there’s nothing we can do about it, we’ve just got to live a while. ‘Life is beautiful’ – that’s my opinion too.
Yesterday, speaking to Lieutenant Gavoille, I had let drop the words, “Oh, we’ll see about that when the war is over.” And Gavoille had answered, “I hope you don’t mean, Captain, that you expect to come out of the war alive?”
(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Flight to Arras)
Ayer decía al teniente Gavoille:
—Ya lo veremos después de la guerra.
Y el teniente Gavoille me respondió:
—No tendrá usted, mi capitán, la pretensión de seguir viviendo después de la guerra.
In 1453, Don Álvaro de Luna, grandmaster of the Military Order of Santiago and prime minister under King Juan II of Castile, received the title of Count of San Esteban de Gormaz. That title still exists – Spaniards don’t like throwing things away, not corpses and not titles either…
En 1453, se le otorgó a don Álvaro de Luna – gran maestre de Santiago y primer ministro de Juan II de Castilla – el título de San Esteban de Gormaz. El título existe todavía – los españoles no tiran las cosas tan fácilmente, ni cadáveres ni títulos…
(Cees Nooteboom: Roads to Santiago / El desvío a Santiago)
“So tell us: where do they appreciate Russians more, this side of the Pyrenees, or the other?”
“Well, I don’t know about the other, but there’s no appreciation at all on this side. For instance, I was in Italy, and they don’t pay Russians a blind bit of notice there. All they do is sing and paint. I mean, one Italian’ll be standing singing, and another’ll be sitting beside him, painting the one that’s singing. And a bit further off there’ll be a third Italian, singing about the one that’s painting. It’d make you weep, and they don’t understand our sorrow.”
Todo esto que don Quijote decía escuchaba un escudero de los que el coche acompañaban, que era vizcaíno; el cual, viendo que no quería dejar pasar el coche adelante, sino que decía que luego había dar la vuelta al Toboso, se fue para don Quijote y, asiéndole de la lanza, le dijo, en mala lengua castellana y peor vizcaína, desta manera:
—Anda, caballero que mal andes; por el Dios que crióme que, si no dejas coche, así te matas como estás ahí vizcaíno.
Entendióle muy bien don Quijote, y con mucho sosiego le respondió:
—Si fueras caballero, como no lo eres, ya yo hubiera castigado tu sandez y atrevimiento, cautiva criatura.
—¿Yo no caballero? Juro a Dios tan mientes como cristiano. Si lanza arrojas y espada sacas, ¡el agua cuán presto verás que al gato llevas! Vizcaíno por tierra, hidalgo por mar, hidalgo por el diablo, y mientes que mira si otra dices cosa.
(Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha)
All this was listened to by a Biscayan Squire who accompanied the coach. He hearing that the coach was not to pass on but was to return to Toboso, went up to Don Quixote, and, laying hold of his lance, said to him: ‘Get away with thee, Sir Knight, for if thou leave not the coach I will kill thee as sure as I am a Biscayan.’
‘If,’ replied Don Quixote haughtily, ‘thou wert a gentleman, as thou art not, I would ere this have punished thy folly and insolence, caitiff creature.’
‘I no gentleman?’ cried the enraged Biscayan. ‘Throw down thy lance and draw thy sword, and thou shalt soon see that thou liest.’
(Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: Don Quixote de la Mancha, transl. by Judge Parry)
Note for English readers:
You might wonder what this was all about?
Regrettably, the English translation doesn't convey the joke - which is based on the Biscayan squire's bad Spanish. Understandably perhaps, this episode is generally omitted from most English versions; the version above renders the exchange in correct English. (And I had to consult three different translations before I found one that included it at all!)
If you read the whole chapter, however, you may still find it enjoyable. You can find Parry's translation on Project Gutenberg:
⇒ Don Quixote of the Mancha (chapter VI - following on from the adventure of the windmills). Enjoy!
People go off by themselves to cry, but man is not by nature solitary. It’s just that when people cry, they don’t want anybody joining in. And quite right too, since there’s no higher state than being inconsolable.
They even took me one night to a tenement near the cathedral and pointed out a howling man on the rooftop, who was pretending to be a ghost in order to terrorize the landlord and thereby reduce the rents.
(Laurie Lee: As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning)
Incluso me llevaron una noche a un bloque de pisos cerca de la catedral y señalaron a un hombre aullando en la azotea, que pretendía ser un fantasma para aterrorizar al propietario y así reducir las rentas.
(Laurie Lee: Cuando partí una mañana de verano)
Did a man really howl from the rooftops in Cádiz in order to reduce his rent? Or did I just make it up?
The best way to find out is by reading the book. 🙂
¿Estaba, de verdad, un hombre aullando en la azotea en Cádiz, para reducir su renta? ¿O lo he inventado yo?
La mejor manera de averiguarlo es leer el libro. 🙂
(Do I need to remind you that Moscow Stations being a satire, Yerofeev writes with his tongue tucked firmly in his cheek?)
I’m not a fool. I’m well aware there are such things as psychiatry and extra-galactic astronomy and the like. But I mean, really, that’s not for us. All that stuff was foisted on us by Peter the Great and Dmitri Kibalchich, and our calling lies in an entirely different direction… You can leave all that extra-galactic astronomy to the Yanks, and the psychiatry to the Germans. Let all those Spanish bastards go watch their corridas, let those African shits build their Aswan dam, go ahead, the wind’ll blow it down anyway, let Italy choke on its idiotic bel canto, what the hell!
Moscow Stations by Russian dissident Venedikt Yerofeev was first circulated only in the form of samizdat; small wonder as it was a strident criticism of the ‘glorious’ Soviet Union. Not that the quote below particularly illustrates that aspect of the book…
Quote of the Week:
There were three things I fancied a look at: Vesuvius, Herculaneum, and Pompeii. But they told me Vesuvius had gone out ages ago, and sent me to Herculaneum. And at Herculaneum they said: “What d’you want with Herculanium, you prat? You’d better be going to Pompeii.” So I turn up in Pompeii, and they tell me: “What the hell d’you want with Pompeii? Piss off back to Herculaneum!”