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A couple of weeks had elapsed since I started working for Williams Lea whore house, and my colleagues began realizing that I love reading books. One day while I was immersed in reading The Confession of Fool, the dwarf was disturbing me, “Shogo san, you always read books. The moment you start reading books, you’re gone to another world, so to speak. I just want to know what sort of a book you’ve been reading, because I’ve never seen a person who is utterly captivated by a book. It must be a great work.”

I snapped annoyingly, “I’m reading Strindberg’s work.”

“Could you translate the title in Japanese for me, since I’m not good at English?” she asked with a slight hint of derision.

When I described the book to her in Japanese, she was unexpectedly bursting out laughing with mocking tears in her eyes. I did not understand what made the dwarf explode in this hysterical fashion, because I was just explaining Strindberg’s naturalism. Besides, he was indeed one of the great play writers in the nineteenth century. Her monstrous laughter insulted my artistic spirit to the marrow. “The dwarf was obviously ridiculing my hero and belittling my intellect,” I thought to myself vengefully. And to my great astonishment, she started telling to Nakao san that I was reading the stupidest book she had ever heard, and even the title itself is so silly, with unnecessary loud voice. Needless to say, that was the last straw for me.

 

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