More Pricks Than Kicks

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  1. More Pricks Than Kicks | Grove Atlantic
  2. More Pricks Than Kicks by Samuel Beckett: Books
  3. More Pricks than Kicks
  4. See a Problem?

His Professoressa was so charming and remarkable. Signorina Adriana Ottolenghi! He did not believe it possible for a woman to be more intelligent or better informed than the little Ottolenghi. So he had set her on a pedestal in his mind, apart from other women. She had said last day that they would read Il Cinque Maggio together.

But she would not mind if he told her, as he proposed to, in Italian, he would frame a shining phrase on his way from the public, that he would prefer to postpone the Cinque Maggio to another occasion. Manzoni was an old woman, Napoleon was another. Why did he think of Manzoni as an old woman? Why did he do him that injustice? Pellico was another. They were all old maids, suffragettes. He must ask his Signorina where he could have received that impression, that the 19th century in Italy was full of old hens trying to cluck like Pindar.

Carducci was another. Also about the spots on the moon. If she could not tell him there and then she would make it up, only too gladly, against the next time. Everything was all set now and in order. Bating, of course, the lobster, which had to remain an incalculable factor. He must just hope for the best. And expect the worst, he thought gaily, diving into the public, as usual. Belacqua drew near to the school, quite happy, for all had gone swimmingly.

The lunch had been a notable success, it would abide as a standard in his mind.

More Pricks Than Kicks | Grove Atlantic

Indeed he could not imagine its ever being superseded. And such a pale soapy piece of cheese to prove so strong! He must only conclude that he had been abusing himself all these years in relating the strength of cheese directly to its greenness. We live and learn, that was a true saying.

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Also his teeth and jaws had been in heaven, splinters of vanquished toast spraying forth at each gnash. It was like eating glass.

More Pricks Than Kicks by Samuel Beckett: Books

His mouth burned and ached with the exploit. Ellis the hangman was even now on his way. Belacqua, tearing at the sandwich and swilling the precious stout, pondered on McCabe in his cell. The lobster was ready after all, the man handed it over instanter, and with such a pleasant smile.

More Pricks than Kicks

Really a little bit of courtesy and goodwill went a long way in this world. A smile and a cheerful word from a common working-man and the face of the world was brightened. And it was so easy, a mere question of muscular control. What on earth was that? Signorina Adriana Ottolenghi was waiting in the little front room off the hall, which Belacqua was naturally inclined to think of rather as the vestibule. That was her room, the Italian room.

Samuel Beckett, More Pricks than Kicks, first edition.

On the same side, but at the back, was the French room. God knows where the German room was. Who cared about the German room anyway? He hung up his coat and hat, laid the long knobby brown-paper parcel on the hall-table, and went prestly in to the Ottolenghi. After about half-an-hour of this and that obiter, she complimented him on his grasp of the language.

There subsisted as much of the Ottolenghi as might be expected to of the person of a lady of a certain age who had found being young and beautiful and pure more of a bore than anything else. Belacqua, dissembling his great pleasure, laid open the moon enigma. It is a famous teaser.

Off-hand I cannot tell you, but I will look it up when I get home. She would look it up in her big Dante when she got home. What a woman! She said nothing. Then silence. A knuckle tambourined on the door, it flew open and lo it was Mlle Glain, the French instructress, clutching her cat, her eyes out on stalks, in a state of the greatest agitation. I intrude, but what was in the bag? Mlle Glain took a French step forward.


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Fish would do very well. It was good enough for Mlle Glain. The Ottolenghi was faintly amused.

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The grey hairs of her maidenhead screamed at Belacqua. But Neapolitan patience has its limits. Belacqua drew near to the house of his aunt. Let us call it Winter, that dusk may fall now and a moon rise. At the corner of the street a horse was down and a man sat on its head.

I know, thought Belacqua, that that is considered the right thing to do.

But why? A lamplighter flew by on his bike, tilting with his pole at the standards, jousting a little yellow light into the evening. A poorly dressed couple stood in the bay of a pretentious gateway, she sagging against the railings, her head lowered, he standing facing her. He stood up close to her, his hands dangled by his sides. Where we were, thought Belacqua, as we were. He walked on gripping his parcel. Why not piety and pity both, even down below? Why not mercy and Godliness together? A little mercy in the stress of sacrifice, a little mercy to rejoice against judgment.