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[Dai Sijie, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Vintage, 2002 (tradução de Ina Rilke)]


"This was our first taste of re-education. Luo was eighteen years old, I was seventeen. (6)


Picture, if you will, a boy of nineteen, still slumbering in the limbo of adolescence, having heard nothing but revolutionary blather, about patriotism, Communism, ideology and propaganda all his life, falling headlongs into a story of awakening desire, passion, impulsive action, love, [Père Goriot] of all the subjects that had, until then, been hiden from me" (53)


Let me tell you about Romain Rolland. Among books in Four-Eye's suitcase there was only one by him: volume one of his four-volume masterpiece, Jean-Christophe. (...) As the story was about a musician and I myself played pieces of the violin such as Mozart is Thinking of Chairman Mao, I was naturally drawn to the book. (...) Jean-Christophe, with his fierce individualism utterly untainted by malice, was a salutary revelation. Without him I would never have understood the splendour of taking free and independent action as an individual. Up until this stolen encounter with Romain Rolland's hero, my poor educated and re-educated brains had been incapable of grasping the notion of one man standing up against the whole world. (102)


He shut the suitcase again and, resting one hand on the lid like a Christian taking a solemn oath, he declared: "With these books I shall transform the Litlle Seamstress. She'll never be a simple mountain girl again." (94)


"She wants to go to the city", he said, "She mentioned Balzac.""What about him?""She said that she learnt one thing from Balzac: that a woman's beauty is a treasure beyond price" (172)

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