A Distant Episode

A Story

by Paul Bowles

A lot of the power in this story, for me, comes from its simple diction, its resisting of the lyrical, its straightforward storytelling. It reaches for the lyrical and figurative in only a couple of places (3rd to last par. for one)--and their rarity makes those moments all the more engaging.

I read this story many years ago. I could not remember the title or the author, but the story of a professor captured and bound by bells and made to dance never left me. I am so pleased to be able to read it again. The imagery is so powerful and the injustice of the situation so despairing, even when I've read it again after so many years it still invokes all kinds of feelings, sadness, treachery, nostalgia, maybe even the the futility of knowledge. Unforgetable.


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