Monday, March 4, 2013

Pocket Mirror

The Viennese Kaffeehaus regular, Richard Engländer, a contemporary of Arthur Schnitzler, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Karl Kraus, named himself Peter Altenberg when he decided to become a poet and a bohemian. Although I don't know his writings well enough to pass any judgement on them, I feel considerable affection for the man because he gave one of the nicest self-characterisations a writer can possibly give: "I never dreamed of being Shakespeare or Goethe, and I never expected to hold the great mirror of truth up before the world; I dreamed only of being a little pocket mirror, the sort that a woman can carry in her purse; one that reflects small blemishes, and some great beauties, when held close enough to the heart." 

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