Sunday, February 15, 2009

Darkness in the Human Soul: Vernichtung

'She took his dictation with care, but because of his runaway fervor, in some haste, so it was not until she got down to the job of typing it out for the printer that she began to glimpse seething in that cauldron of historical allusions and dialectical hypotheses and religious imperatives and legal precedents and anthropological propositions the smoky, ominous presence of a single word -- repeated several times -- which quite baffled and confounded and frightened her, appearing as it did in this otherwise persuasively practical text, this clever polemic which voiced with breezily scurrilous mockery the sly propaganda she had half heard more than once over the Bieganski dinner table.

But this word that so alarmed her was a new departure. For those several times he had made her change 'total abolishment' (vollstandige Abschaffung) to Vernichtung...

And she was still repressing the very meaning of Vernichtung until that moment in the drizzling dusk of Sunday, when hurrying with the bundle of typescript to meet her father and her husband, Casimir, in a cafe on the Market Square, she was smitten with horror at what he had said and written and what she, in her complicity, had done.

"Vernichtung," she said aloud. He means, she thought with stupid belatedness, they should all be murdered.'


Sophie's Choice
William Styron
1976

1 comment:

Alma said...

I didn't breathe through the entire book. Not sure I could live through it again. Kevin Kline and I had lunch and dinners throughout this rehearsals for the film. I'll never forget the day he got the part. We met at "Chatfield's" on the east side - he was flying! "Alan Pakula called", he said. And the wine flowed.