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By Peter B. High

A survey of the English prose, poetry and drama of the U.S. from Colonial occasions to the1980s.

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Nothing original about it. ’ That was a phrase I’d heard from a certain left-wing film critic who stung me for 350 euros. Not that I entirely agreed with it, it was just that every time I repeated those words in conversation with a client I felt the film critic was paying me back a few bucks. But it was too much for the Sikh. ’ he asked with a frown. ‘The point is, the Nemo character looked remarkably like you. A moustache and beard . . ’ ‘Then it’s not likely that we have much in common,’ he said with a smile.

I actually only dozed off for a moment and then immediately woke up again. But that was enough. I sensed I’d lost contact with the Sikh and when I looked up, my eyes met his, staring wildly. He could see me just as I was, sitting on a chair with my trousers lowered and my tail sticking up behind my back. And that is a sight no one should ever see, apart from the mirror and the spirits. The first thought I had was that I was facing a Taoist exorcist. This was a totally absurd idea because: 1. The last Taoist capable of hunting foxes lived in the eighteenth century.

What can I say to justify it? I was given the name at a time when the obscene phrase didn’t exist in the Russian language, because the Russian language itself didn’t even exist yet. Who could ever have imagined in those times that some day my noble surname would become an obscene word? Ludwig Wittgenstein once said that names are the only things that exist in the world. Maybe that’s true, but the problem is that as time passes by, names do not remain the same - even if they don’t change. We foxes are fortunate creatures, because we have short memories.

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