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By Danilo Kis, Ralph Manheim

Danilo Kis used to be some of the most crafty and eloquent writers of postwar Europe. Of all his books, Hourglass, the account of the ultimate months in a single man's existence earlier than he's despatched to a focus camp, is taken into account to be his masterpiece.

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Demise, sir. As he rotated for the final time, whilst he had already crossed the brink and brought a primary step, what did he imagine he observed, notwithstanding he couldn't have sworn to it? He concept he observed a grey rat working from one gap to a different within the position the place one o f the cabinets have been status a second prior to. W hat occurred then? First, a cloud o f dirt poured from an open window, the only close to the door; it was once just like the smoke from a cannon that has ju st been fired. T h en from the subsequent. T rooster, at ordinary periods, from the opposite home windows. A second later, the unoccupied half o f the home (the half throughout from the hydrant), with the cellar or shop­ room in it, used to be choked with smoke. A nd then the wave o f destruction engulfed the roof, sporting away tiles, beams, and partitions. How lengthy did that pass on? a couple of minutes or seconds. W hat sounds have been heard? A shattering o f glass, a smashing o f bricks and tiles, the cracking and bursting o f beams as in a fireplace. W hat obituary (newspaper file) did the m iracu­ lously escaped E. S. imagine up as he stood grey with dirt and terror beside the hydrant on the side o f the ruins? 102 HOURGLASS E. S. , the founder o f muromancy, the technological know-how o f analyzing the spots on partitions (a procedure for which the time period zidomantija, “wall reading,” or, might be extra appropri­ ately, zidomantija, “ Mosaic reading,” has been coined in our Pannonian region), met his loss of life on March 18 o f this 12 months, underneath the ruins o f the home within which he have been cultivating that imprecise department o f magic, which he him self termed a technology. T h e realized Schwarzkunstler should be stated to have fallen sufferer to his personal machinations. T h e residence in Ujvidek,* the place he were dwelling up till then, 21 Bern (formerly German) highway, which used to be registered lower than the identify o f Mrs. Meszaros, collapsed ju st because the writer o f the vague (manuscript) quantity Muromantische Schriften, used to be en­ gaged in transcribing sure spots at the wall, at the foundation o f which he was hoping to illustrate, schwarz auf wei/3, the steadiness o f his theories. in accordance with the testimony o f Mr. Hanifovic, a porter residing at the Danube Embankment, E. S. had spoken at size to him and his sincere fellow employee, Mr. Pupavac, at the importance o f this “science,” protecting that his personal destiny and that o f his relatives have been charted in these spots as truly as within the strains o f his hand, “as irrevocably as within the scroll o f the holy T o ra h ” (sic! ). either porters denied the fake studies to the impression that E. S. had claimed to work out the day and hour o f his personal im pending dying in a single o f those “scrolls o f the T o ra h . ” in keeping with Mr. Pupavac, porter, and witness to the mysterious disaster, the “ Father o f Magic” had no longer stated one observe approximately his personal misfortune and used to be haggling with * T h e H ungarian nam e for Novi unhappy. [Trans. ] HOURGLASS 103 his porters over the cost o f relocating his furnishings while the home caved in. W hat used to be the reason o f this cave-in? A t first E. S. used to be susceptible to think in an earthquake, whose epicenter used to be distant, or a violent explosion in a munitions warehouse.

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