Thursday, 12 December 2013

A reader at the Lisbon Liceu

"He had slim hands with long, finely shaped fingers, as if they had been created to turn the pages of precious old books.  With these fingers, he now leafed through Prado's book.  But he didn't read it; moving the pages was like a ritual to bring back the distant past.

'All the things he [Amadeu de Prado] had read when he entered crossed the threshold of the Liceu at the age of ten in his small, tailor-made frock coat!  Many of us caught ourselves secretly calculating whether we could keep up with him.  And then, after class, he sat in the library soaking up all the thick books, page after page,  line after line.  He had an incredible memory and an incredibly concentrated, rapt look on his face when reading.  "When Amadeu finishes reading a book," said another teacher, "it has no more letters.  He devours not only the meaning, but also the printer's ink."

'That's how it was: the books seemed to disappear inside him, leaving empty husks on the shelf afterwards'. "

Night Train to Lisbon   Pascal Mercier, trans. B. Harshaw

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