Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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Monday Aug. 4th

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p. 3

There are so many things you can do to take up the time until the day is over. Everyone has his own kind of thing, whether it's pulling grass from between the bricks or going through the car wash or putting up pickles or scrubbing the outside of the house; or, if you like competition, playing bridge or tennis; ...

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Tuesday Aug. 5th

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pp. 3-6

I am a teacher of literature and ordinarily I would be dressing by now to go to the college to meet a class or keep office hours, shifting into a frame of mind that excludes my personal life; but this summer I chose not to teach during the second summer- school session. The need for ruses, for time fillers, is partly the result, ...

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Wednesday Aug. 6th

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pp. 7-12

A nutty friend of Corinne's—a very decent if troubled young man who has an M.S. in clinical psychology and is now a plumbing contractor—had given me a monograph called "Senoi Dreamwork," about a people in the Malaysian archipelago ...

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Thursday Aug. 7th

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pp. 12-16

I believe I should begin a little more than three years ago when he turned away. There had been times when he had turned away before, even in the early years, for a couple of weeks, for a month; once, after his father died, for three months—or maybe it was longer. ...

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Friday Aug. 8th

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pp. 16-17

I'd known him all my life. We were third cousins, raised in the same town, friends from early adolescence—whenever one starts being friends with the opposite sex. Not sexual friends —or not so far as I was concerned. He may have been yearning, but he was never the kind who laid himself open to rejection ...

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Sunday Aug. 17th

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pp. 17-21

Yes, I fell in love, for the second time in my marriage, the fourth time in my life. I was in love from the time I was twenty-four until I was twenty-eight with a man who was married to someone else. That love affair is probably not a part of this record and he is dead. ...

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Monday Aug. 18th

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pp. 21-28

Why am I writing this? Why? There are two or three sets of reasons I could call up—that I will call up finally for what they're worth, if I have the stamina to stay with the search. I'll start with what seems to me the strongest. But to do that I have to begin before George and I were born. ...

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Tuesday Aug. 19th

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pp. 29-38

After that day when he touched her shoulder, I never had the least doubt what was going on. But now my attention was on something else. Knowing George, I knew that he would turn the bullet—would never admit to the affair; that he would simply tell me I was imagining things, ...

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Thursday Aug. 28th

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pp. 39-43

Shall I tell you, children, about our courtship? I've always shied away from such talk with you. I wrote last week—and afterwards came close to deciding to write no more, but after all, here I am again—anyhow, I wrote, "He never considered marrying anyone but me" etc., but then I got sidetracked. ...

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Friday Aug. 29th

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pp. 43-48

That night—the night of The Toad and the church—he came home not long after ten o'clock. Again he'd been taking part of a shift for an absent intern. It had been an easy day, he said. No real crises. ...

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Saturday Aug. 30th

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pp. 49-50

A. Remember the isolated rural world she lived in, her widowed state, her loneliness. Sometimes, perhaps, an aunt, a sister, a cousin would come and stay for weeks; sometimes, particularly during the winter months, she would bring the children to town. ...

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Saturday Sept. 6th

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pp. 51-55

I've at least been straight enough thus far to say obliquely that another major reason for writing this down is to justify myself—to you, children, and to myself, perhaps to the world. Remember what I said about Joyce Gary's heroines? ...

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Tuesday Sept. 16th

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pp. 55-56

Again, although it's true that all the information I've been writing down is relevant to our predicament, I have been using it—the way I use moving the hose and pulling weeds between the bricks—to put off. ...

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Friday Sept. 19th

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pp. 56-58

George cares about his work, but he hates his profession. Also, although he wants to be comfortable, he hates to make money. And doctors can't avoid making a great deal of money —far more than they need or deserve. What he has done about his dilemma over the years is as follows: ...

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Friday Sept. 26th

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pp. 59-61

None of you know him, or, if you ever did, you would not remember him—a timid, pudgy, self-conscious, probably unloved child, who, like Chuchundra, the Musk-rat in "Rikki- Tikki-Tavi," scurried along the walls of the room, while you shouted and tumbled and postured in the middle. ...

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Saturday Sept. 27th

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pp. 62-67

Sometimes, when I get up after a sleepless night, I am sure I have, in fact, slept, have dreamed all night of being awake. With this dream, presumably, I punish myself for not staying awake and being miserable during some particularly excruciating crisis. ...

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Thursday Oct. 2nd

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pp. 68-72

Or, and here I feel as if I may be slipping into a waking dream, how can I be sure what happened next? Time has passed. A year? Two years? Maybe I've changed the order of events, even the content of events inside my own head, thinking, I'll put off telling about this until later. ...

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Friday Oct. 10th

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pp. 73-76

I cannot write his name. I cannot bear to speak his name. I think of giving him a name like "The Toad"—The Technician, for example. That's his trade. No, I'll call him Chuchundra— The Musk-rat. Once a timid, chubby musk-rat pup, now a lean, roaming, scavenging, hungry musk-rat male, who hides himself in order to survive, ...

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Monday Oct. 13th

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pp. 77-80

If I concocted that excruciating, absurd story about George and The Toad, made it up out of whole cloth, it must have been for good reasons; and now that I look back at it, I know that one of the reasons was not at all, as I wrote when I confessed my duplicity, that I wanted to shield George's privacy, ...

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Wednesday Oct. 15th

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pp. 81-84

He was consumed with guilt, and it was not because The M-r was a man, but because he'd betrayed me—he had come to terms, he explained, with his own nature. To exorcise the guilt, to keep me pacified, he was loving and attentive. And I —I was tender and tolerant and understanding. ...

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Thursday Oct. 16th

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pp. 85-87

I see myself, like those miserable freaks who try to break the record on the roller coaster at Coney Island, riding night and day for weeks, months. I am exhausted, frantic, determined, hanging on to the side bars of my carriage, my face burning in the wind. ...

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Saturday Oct. 18th

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p. 88

When my mother was pregnant with my younger sister and forced to stay in bed most of the time because she was threatened with a miscarriage, she sent me to stay with my aunt and her new husband. I was only three and I remember nothing of that visit, but I have been told by my mother that I stayed four months ...

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Sunday Oct. 26th

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p. 89

I grew up, as I've said, in a pious churchgoing Methodist family; but in middle adolescence, almost without thinking about it, I lost interest in the church. What was said there no longer sounded sensible to me; the building seemed to crumble, the wind whistled through the gaps, and I moved out into the open desert. ...

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Tuesday Oct. 28th

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p. 90

A young man who occasionally fills in as drummer in William's group reminds me very strongly of The Musk-rat. He has that curious sexual quality so repulsive to me in The M-r, a kind of quivering charge and with it a taint of prettiness, lips softly curved, ass too round, jeans too tightly stretched over the genitals. ...

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Wednesday Oct. 29th

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p. 91

It's gross—inhuman—to call him by the name of an animal, to turn him into less than a man, to feel the rage and contempt that go into pronouncing, writing that word. And don't think I don't know when I do it who I am really calling an animal, making less than human. ...

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Thursday Oct. 30th

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p. 92

Time passes. In conscientious pursuit of my policy of openness, I tell George in due course of my pain. Not to begin with. To begin with, the pain seems to me so irrational, so entirely contrary to what I sincerely believe I should be feeling that I say nothing. I wait for it to go away. ...

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Saturday Nov. 1st

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pp. 93-94

At some point, I forget when, I went a few times to see a psychotherapist. All my life I've been interested in psychiatric theory. I had read Havelock Ellis and Krafft-Ebing and Freud by the time I was twenty or so, then moved on to the others, Jung especially. ...

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Friday Nov. 7th

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pp. 95-97

I went to see the boy. It was the day after he and George and I took in a movie together—the only time the three of us did anything together except occasionally exchange courteous greetings when I was on my way out of the house and he on his way in. ...

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Saturday Nov. 8th

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pp. 98-100

Across the street from the modest house that William has bought high in the Montecito Hills of Los Angeles, overlooking a precipitous hillside that drops down to the Hollywood Freeway, live an elderly couple named Crouch who, after an initially suspicious period, have been very kind to him. ...

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Sunday Nov. 9th

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pp. 101-105

William began telling me what to expect as soon as we left the airport and set out on the forty-minute drive to his house. "I didn't say anything about it when you called" he said, "because I was afraid you'd back out if you knew. And you haven't been out here for over a year, after all—I wanted you to come." ...

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Monday Nov. 10th

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pp. 106-112

I suppose all my latent motherly passions must have been aroused by William's account of their predicament—toward William, who needed peace and quiet for his work—not to mention a new set of pots and pans, toward the miserable woman in the grip of her obsession, toward the abandoned baby. ...

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Tuesday Nov. 11th

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pp. 113-120

Two weeks went by. Janice thought of nothing but the decoration of her car. She spent hours making sketches. She explained to William, as she had to me, that she intended to give the car, once she had finished decorating it, to him. "It will be uniquely beautiful" she said. ...

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Wednesday Nov. 12th

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pp. 121-124

Understand that even though I wrote "creature," I am trying to say as little as possible about my version of him and about what George said of him. I could, after all, scarcely fail to distort—if not deliberately, then inadvertently. But I feel my hatred of him pounding against my diaphragm like waves, ...

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Tuesday Nov. 18th

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pp. 125-128

George would not, could not let him go. He called him long distance again and again, spoke of the loss of friendship (or told me that was what he spoke of), persuaded him that they should "keep up" with each other. The loss of friendship was the important thing, he said. ...

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Wednesday Nov. 19th

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pp. 129-130

Because I want so much to go ahead, to get it all down, I haven't stopped long enough to say anything about how George and I lived during this period. It strikes me, though, thinking back, that although I spent every single private moment, every second I could spare from the outside world, from my work

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Thursday Nov. 20th

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pp. 131-133

Don't ask me how I knew they were there—in my house. It was as if they—the letters—had seeds of plutonium in them and I were a living Geiger counter. My own ticking, the beating of my heart told me they were in my house. ...

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Friday Nov. 21st

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pp. 134-138

A. How and why does the prospect of an encounter with a lover improve performance with a wife? We're talking here, you know, about synapses and electrical currents and chemical changes, about eager blood, a happy, shapely, compact prostate gland. ...

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Saturday Nov. 22nd

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pp. 139-150

The diary that follows was in two old-fashioned, cardboardbound school notebooks. It had not been kept with any regularity, only, it appeared, when she had been in town visiting. This house, of course, was her parents' home. ...

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Friday Nov. 28th

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pp. 150-151

I did go up to those old storage rooms and look for George's letters and I did not find them. That much is true. I sat on the window seat one winter afternoon in the chill early dusk and watched the children straggle home from school along the path by the stagnant waters of our river and I thought about her. ...

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Saturday Nov. 29th

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pp. 153-154

Yes, her story came easily—like automatic writing—just as The Toad's story did. But oh, believe me, not just at the beginning, but with every word I meant to tell the truth—a truth. I began, I wrote on, and in some secret part of me, some hollow hidden even from my own probing, I must have known the writing would lead us here. ...

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Tuesday Dec. 2nd

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p. 155

Yesterday in the bank, where I'd gone to deposit my salary check, I met a young man who was a high school friend of William's. He had on sunglasses and to begin with I was not sure who he was, although I saw something familiar about the set of his mouth, the way he held his head. ...

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Thursday Dec. 11th

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pp. 156-158

We are rich people, George and I. I have never in my life gone hungry or been severely uncomfortable for more than a few days at a time. Childhood pneumonia, a hemorrhoidectomy, childbirth—but real hopeless physical anguish, helplessness before suffering? ...

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Thursday Jan. 1st

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p. 159

I will begin again. Twenty-two years ago—you were five, Corinne—I fell in love with a woman who was married to a professor at the college. You knew them: Judith and Lee. Now. I have written a sentence, two sentences. I have taken the first step. ...

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Friday Jan. 2nd

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pp. 160-163

Again and again, children, I've lined you up, thinking I can have an imaginary conversation with you. Someone will ask questions and we'll get to the bottom of it all. I see you, of course, with infinitely compassionate, understanding faces— but then I remember that in real life you ask perhaps understanding, ...

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Saturday Jan. 3rd

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pp. 164-167

Here is how it began. I came to hate George. No matter that I trusted him, was fond of him, cherished him. I hated his nose that I love so passionately, hated the body that now, in the green summer mornings, the frigid winter dawns, I love to lean against, entwine with my own. ...

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Sunday Jan. 4th

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pp. 168-169

If I had said to her, Have I ever told you about my second tonsillectomy? (a dreary, horrid, boring tale), she would have said, No! Tell me. And even if I'd told her twice before, her interest would have been genuine. She listened to me—and I to her—with the kind of sisterly acceptance one gives oneself. ...

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Monday Jan. 5th

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pp. 170-173

I find it almost impossible, you see, to leave the present, my present nuttiness, to leave off thinking about George and go back into that faraway past, my past, so far receded now that it seems to me to have happened to someone else.

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Wednesday Jan. 7th

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p. 174

Do you suppose I believe that if I were to kill Fideau, to blow his brains out, it would release me—and him—from the wicked ogre's spell? That from his bloody corpse would rise my blameless, unblemished prince—my purified George?

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Thursday Jan. 8th

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pp. 175-183

It began when Judith said without warning one day (we were walking across the campus, had just finished laughing at some silly joke, something one of my students had said), "I've fallen in love with you, Corinne. There it is. It's causing me a lot of pain. I don't think we should see each other anymore." ...

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Friday Jan. 9th

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p. 184

Does it seem to you, reading, that I have been inventing again—in Judith, the ideal companion; in our motives, the purest friendship; in George, the inhuman, cold, blind professional; in Lee, the dark and hulking madman? Perhaps I have. ...

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Saturday Jan. 10th

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pp. 185-189

By 1962 things weren't going well for Lee. The darkness was gathering again. She said nothing, but I knew that he had walked up to a colleague on the campus one day, held him by the lapel, and told him not to "shrink away." ...

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Sunday Jan. 11th

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pp. 190-195

One day he appeared without explanation or appointment in George's office and demanded to see him. This, of course, was long before George went into emergency medicine, when he still had an office, kept appointments, did X tonsillectomies, X hysterectomies, X appendectomies every year. ...

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Monday Jan. 12th

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pp. 196-197

When he was sixteen or so, he, too, appeared one day in George's office, thin and anxious and determined. He, too, asked the question Lee had asked: Are you, is it possible that you are my father? ...

Saturday Jan. 17th

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p. 198

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Sunday Jan. 18th

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pp. 199-201

I have been reading Troyat's biography of Tolstoy. As all the world knows, Tolstoy died of pneumonia in the stationmaster's house at Astapovo, a small rural railroad station hundreds of miles from his villa. At eighty-two, he had run away from his wife of forty-eight years, who had borne him twelve children, ...

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Monday Jan. 19th

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p. 202

But don't think for a moment that finding them, reading them, plumbing the slimy bottom of my own character, finding out something strange and new about his, set me upon a new path. If the circumstances were to arise again, so uncontrollable is my obsession, I know I would look again, read again, ...

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Tuesday Jan. 20th

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pp. 203-206

In the middle of the weeks of that search—before I found the letters, when I knew that George knew I was looking, when I could not stop looking—I stood up in my empty kitchen one afternoon and screamed as loud as I could scream. ...

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Wednesday Jan. 21st

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pp. 207-208

Some bony splinter of honor at the bottom of my soul cried out against my abandonment of myself. Two days later I made my pot of coffee and sat down in the living room and he drew in his foot and I said, "George, I know. I have read his letters" ...

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Thursday Jan. 22nd

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p. 209

I awakened last night from a dream of which all that was left was a voice in my head saying, "Where art rules, the artifact is a source of power." ...

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Friday Jan. 23rd

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pp. 210-212

I see you, George, dozing on a summer Sunday afternoon. I lie down beside you on the old daybed in the living room— so narrow we have to hang on to each other to keep from falling off. ...