Readings — From the August 2013 issue

The Exiled Queen

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By László Krasznahorkai, from Seiobo There Below, published last month by New Directions. Krasznahorkai was born in Hungary in 1954. Translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet.

He already knew how to draw a Madonna even before he knew what a Madonna was, but it wasn’t only in this that he displayed an extraordinary talent, but in nearly everything else too, for he was able to read and write, master the skills of carpentry, use the tools of the workshop, grind and mix the pigments to perfection, gild frames in such a way that no one ever had to teach him, so that in Prato his father always followed his progress with laudatory attention, keeping an eye on his every movement, and he only caressed the boy when little Filippino had the inclination to sit on his lap, and this period somehow passed very quickly, the child had hardly reached his sixth year when his father began to notice that he didn’t like to be touched, that he had no need to be embraced, indeed — to put it more directly — he detested it, although he was treated with particular love in his father’s dwelling as well as in the workshop; the family, the numerous and often-changing ranks of assistants and pupils, even the distinguished patrons, if they came to negotiate with the famous master, never failed to praise him, saying what a beautiful child, just as they never failed to gape in astonishment (although they did not truly believe that this wee mite had made them the drawing so proudly displayed by the master)…

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