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BUZZATI, Dino

The Tartar Steppe

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He deludes himself, this Drogo, with the dream of a wonderful revenge at some remote date -- he believes that he still has an immensity of time at his disposal. So he gives up the petty struggles of the day to day existence. The day will come, he thinks, when all accounts will be paid with interest. But in the meantime the others are overtaking him, they contend keenly with each other, they outstrip Drogo and have no thought for him. They leave him behind. He watches them disappear into the distance, perplexed, a prey to his usual doubts: perhaps he really has made a mistake? Perhaps he is an ordinary mortal for whom only a mediocre fate is reserved?

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What a terrible mistake, thought Drogo, perhaps everything is like that -- we think there are beings like ourselves around us and instead there is nothing but ice and stones speaking a strange language; we are on the point of greeting a friend but our arm falls inert, the smile dies away because we are completely alone.

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