Page 17 - Vladimir Bartol catalogue, 2019
P. 17

17limping gait, then he lit a cigarette that Berthold o ered him and he sat down on thebed between my two friends. With a look of utmost pleasure he blew clouds of smoke, as naked as some demon that had in ltrated our group from out of the underworld. Suddenly he tossed the cigarette aside. “Now, gentlemen,” he began anew, “it’s time forthe most important thing, the true creative act, so to speak. Because my task is no less than to assemble out of the most imperfect parts the whole that every true gentleman constitutes.... Here’s a pair of stockings I bought on the way home (I paid three francs  fty for them), very cheap material, but the color is choice, especially when you look at them under electric light....”He opened a package and took out a pair of stockings with a modern pattern on them, but of the most inferior quality.  en he opened some drawer and took out a shirt that was ripped in numerous places and began putting it on.  roughout, he continued his monologue.“ e chest placards are untouched, gentlemen, and in a shirt that’s the only really essential thing....”He took a pair of dark, ironed trousers out of a cupboard.  ese had some suspicious looking tatters that  opped down at one end. When he put them on, I noticed that they were ripped in several places around the waist, with whole swaths dangling down. He took a box of safety pins out of the desk drawer and started pinning them up.“So, gentlemen,” he said as he did this, “all these imperfections will vanish as soon as the jacket goes on. But now it’s time for the vest, and that poses its own problems.... But we can only ever count on what we have available at hand....”He put on the vest, which was missing practically its entire back. Both pieces that remained of it had been connected with ordinary string. But even the front had justtwo buttons left – the uppermost and bottommost. He secured the rest of it with two enormous safety pins.  en he fastened on a collar and knotted a tie, which looked tome like nothing more than a piece of dark, worn-out cloth. But as soon as its lower part vanished beneath the vest, it looked entirely presentable.“A fresh collar and a clean necktie,” he continued explaining, “are the principal, most obvious signs of a true gentleman. Because they’re the  rst things that a person notices, and they’re the pedestal on which the seat of human wisdom rests.”Once again he burst out in his devilish laughter.  en he reached for a pair of almost new shoes that peaked out from under the bed and he began putting them on, moaning as he did so. Suddenly he cast them aside and leaped furiously to his feat. He glared at Walter and started shouting at him.“How dare you insist that I pay you for that torture device! Do you realize I could report you to the authorities and demand compensation for the pain that these damn shoes of yours just caused me?”Walter went red in the face with embarrassment, but the Russian waved his hand dismissively and set about the painful task again.  is time he succeeded in getting

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