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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pavic's "Dictionary of the Khazars" #3

[This is one of a series of entries on Milorad Pavic's writings, click for the first post in the series.]

These are lists of quotations from the book that are quite beautiful, I think. I am quoting them in order to share my enthusiasm and to hope the magic rubs off, a little.

"During his long life he and a monk from another monastery played chess without a board or pieces." 190

"He took off his uniform in a hotel and for the first time saw his scars in a copper mirror. They smelled of bird-droppings." 191

"For, as they caressed the rocks, slipped through their crevices, and skirted their tops, the winds always played a different tune, until the marble and the masons disappeared forever, washed away by the rains, whipped by the glances of passersby, and licked by the tongues of rams and bulls." 199

"Contemporaries say that Mutsaf Beg Sablak could not keep food down and that, like a turtledove, he ate and secreted simultaneously." 200

Because the book does not have to be read in strict order, these quotations jump back to early in the book now.

"At night she wore a letter inscribed on each eyelid...each letter kills as soon as it is read. They were written by blind men, and the ladies-in-waiting shut their eyes when they attended to the princess in the morning, before her bath. Thus, she was protected from her enemies while she slept." 21

"Every morning she would create a hitherto unseen image of her own face." 21

"'Khazar face' referred to ... starting each day as someone else, with a completely new and unfamiliar face, so that even the closest of kin were at pains to recognize each other." 22

"Family inheritances are meted out according to the color of one's beard." 26

"Years passed like turtles." 27

"He has a broad chest the size of a cage for large birds or a small beast, and is often the target of murderers, for there is a popular poem saying that his bones are made of gold." 28

"I saw him stand beneath a tree, his saber drawn, waiting for the wind to blow; as the first fruit dropped, he slashed it with his saber in mid-air." 30

"A look that fells birds" 31

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