voulez vous du beurre?

Arriving in Paris always causes me pain, even when I have been away for only a short while. It is a city which I never fail to approach with expectation and leave with disappointment. There is a question which only I can ask and which only Paris can answer; but this question is something which I have never yet been able to formulate. Certain things indeed I have learnt here: for instance, that my happiness has a sad face, so sad that for years I took it for my unhappiness and drove it away. But Paris remains for me still an unresolved harmony. It is the only city which I can personify. London I know too well, and the others I do not love enough. Paris I encounter, but as one encounters a loved one, in the end and dumbly, and can scarcely speak a word. Alors, Paris, qu’est-ce que tu dis, toi? Paris, dis-moi ce que j’aime. But there is no reply, only the sad echo from crumbling walls, Paris.

~iris murdoch, under the net

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