Master of Petersburg (1994)

Cover Master of Petersburg
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In a back room there is a card game going on. He watches for a while, and drinks, but does not play. It is late when he returns to the darkened apartment, the empty room.
    Alone, lonely, he allows himself a twinge of longing, not unpleasant in itself, for Dresden and the comfortable regularity of life there, with a wife who jealously guards his privacy and organizes the family day around his habits.
    He is not at home at No. 63 and never will be. Not only is he the most transient of sojour
...ners, his excuse for staying on as obscure to others as to himself, but he feels the strain of living at close quarters with a woman of volatile moods and a child who may all too easily begin to find his bodily presence offensive. In Matryona’s company he is keenly aware that his clothes have begun to smell, that his skin is dry and flaky, that the dental plates he wears click when he talks. His haemorrhoids, too, cause him endless discomfort. The iron constitution that took him through Siberia is beginning to crack; and this spectacle of decay must be all the more distasteful to a child, herself finical about cleanliness, in whose eyes he has supplanted a being of godlike strength and beauty.

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