Young Man in Chains (L'Enfant Chargé de Chaines)

Young Man in Chains (L'Enfant Chargé de Chaines)

Young Man in Chains (L'Enfant Chargé de Chaines)

Young Man in Chains (L'Enfant Chargé de Chaines)

Excerpt

JEAN-PAUL had taken a tiny fifth-floor flat in the rue de Bellechasse. The windows looked on to a landscape of roofs. His father had sent him some pieces of old furniture which had been lying forgotten in the attics of the family house in the country. They had been familiar with the circumscribed existence of his grandparents, and, like old retainers, meeting again after a long separation, recognized the young man as the child who, so often, had bumped his head against their corners. Among them was a clock which, in those days, used to wake Jean-Paul in a sleep-deadened bedroom surrounded by the terrifying country silence.

He spent his time in pursuing the humdrum routine of work imposed upon him by the course of lectures which he was attending at the Sorbonne, and in writing, for obscure magazines, poems about the value of which his mind was not altogether made up.

On his writing-table stood a photograph of the mother he had never known. She looked out at him with the tired smile of one already suffering from the ravages of a mortal ailment. His father, Bertrand Johanet, lived in Guyenne where he owned a farm surrounded by heath-land. No one killed more woodcock than he did in the winter months, and, in August, when the pine-woods scorched in the sun, he spent most of his time instructing the peasants when to light the protective fires which set a defensive wall against the all-devouring furnace.

He knew very little about his son, nor did Jean-Paul know . . .

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