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Rilke’s Bookseller

From Rainer Maria Rilke’s 1910 novel Malte Laurids Brigge (in the old translation by M.D. Herter Norton):

Occasionally I pass by little shops – in the rue de Seine, for example.  Dealers in antiques or small second-hand booksellers or vendors of engravings with overcrowded windows.  No one ever enter their shops; they apparently do no business.  But if one looks in, they are sitting there, sitting and reading, without a care; they take no thought for the morrow, are not anxious about any success, have a dog that sits before them, all good nature, or a cat that makes the silence still greater by gliding along the rows of books, as if it were rubbing the names off their backs.

Ah, if that were enough: sometimes I would like to buy such a full shop-window for myself and to sit down behind it with a dog for twenty years.



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