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"As a matter of fact, not only was he not clumsy and a coward but very much the reverse: he was magnanimous, brave, fair-minded, and happy; and cheerful the whole time. Only they didn't know it here. Although! Although - it was easy to talk that way; and all right to say it too, since it was no lie. Still, what was the use? He didn't feel like talking. But there was no denying that it was he who was right and not Schulze. Or Merényi's gang. Everybody was wrong sometimes. No, unfortunately he couldn't believe that. That was no good. Surely, he was the most cowardly, most wretched creature on earth. Though, of course, it was equally beyond doubt that nobody was any better than he was; only it was futile for him to draw his sword and lunge forward because, if he looked behind him to see whether his legions were following, suddenly... No, No. There were plenty of things missing here. Words were no good. Somewhere within himself perhaps he knew these things wordlessly; that was why he hated having to explain. The more substantial the truth, the thinner the words grow. The ultimate gist of things must be somewhere in the region of silence; only silence can contain it. Even if he knew what he wanted to say he still could do no more than relegate it to silence. Although sitting on that bench and turning his cap in his hands, he wasn't at all sure whether he really wanted to tell his mother what he knew about the world." (from School at the Frontier, translated by Kathleen Szasz)

"The Company Commander turned the pages for a bit; then he asked us questions. Had we heard cadet Ottevenyi's utterances on such and such a date? Or something else at some other time? Had he said this, had he said that?
We stood silent and embarrassed. The bald Lieutenant-Colonel quoted all sorts of swear words and obscenities, which we all used constantly, without attaching to them any meaning or serious intent. But I must say, they sounded very startling in the mouth of the Lieutenant-Colonel.
Seeing our hesitation, the Lieutenant-Colonel became somewhat firmer.
"What's the matter? Everybody else heard him say it; are you the only ones who didn't? Do you recognize this notebook?"
He was showing us Ottevenyi's notebook.
"No," I said.
"Yes, I do," said Colalto at the same time.
"Don't you recognize it?"
"Yes, I do," I said quickly.
"Whose is it?"
(from School at the Frontier, translated by Kathleen Szasz)

"An Ottlik sentence does not tremble. It stands firm on its feet. Like a big boat or a big black bird, it almost imperceptibly sways."
(Péter Esterházy)



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