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IN BRIEF

Fiction

October 09, 1994|SUSAN SALTER REYNOLDS

THE FOLLOWING STORY by Cees Nooteboom, translated by Ina Rilke (Harcourt Brace & Company: $14.95; 115 pp.) Here is a disturbing fable about a man, nicknamed Socrates by his students and colleagues, with a single defining memory, a single event in which he came close to living as he ought to have lived; the catalyst, a woman. "She had shown me a garden that had been closed to me. I was still shut out, but at least I had caught a glimpse of it. Glimpse is the wrong word. I had heard it. She had made a sound that did not belong to the world. . . . Where that sound came from it must be impossible to live." This woman is married to a man who doesn't love her. To get revenge, she gives Socrates a moment in his life that becomes the eye of the hurricane; he can never get out of it. "It was not my soul that would set out on a journey . . . it was my body that would embark on endless wanderings, never to be ousted from the universe." He tells the story again and again.

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