Fragment uit The Prague orgy

Wat is dat nou voor een roman, The Prague orgy van Philip Roth? Ik heb geen idee. Net zoals alle boeken van Roth bevat het een hoeveelheid verhalen, alsof de auteur er geen genoeg van krijgt om die te vertellen. Hij zit naast je en zegt, jullie hebben allebei de laatste slok van het laatste glas leeggedronken en staan op het punt om de kroeg te verlaten, je kijkt er eerlijk gezegd een beetje naar uit, hij zegt, dus, Ik zal je vertellen over die keer dat ik in Praag was. En dan zijn jullie weer minstens 100 bladzijdes verder, voordat er aan naar huis gaan kan worden gedacht. Ondertussen heb je verhalen gehoord waarvan je het bestaan niet wist en die de auteur om zich heenstrooit alsof het pepernoten zijn.

Since Eva is no longer here, I can tell you. It’s another of my boring European stories. One of her favorites. In our town there was a Gestapo officer who loved to play chess. After the occupation began, he found out that my father was the chess master of the region, and so he had him to his house every night. My father was horribly shy of people, even of his students. But because he believed that my mother and my brother would be protected if he was courteous with the officer, he went whenever he was called. And they were protected. All the Jews in the town were huddled into the Jewish quarter. For the others things got a little worse every day, but not for my family. For more than a year nobody bothered them. My father could no longer teach at the high school, but he was now allowed to go around as a private tutor to earn some money. At night, after our dinner, he would leave the Jewish quarter and go to play chess with the Gestapo officer. Well, stationed in the town there was another Gestapo officer. He had a Jewish dentist whom he was protecting. The dentist was fixing all his teeth for him. His family too was left alone, and the dentist was allowed to continue with his practice. One Sunday, a Sunday probably much like today, the two Gestapo officers went out drinking together and they got drunk, much the way, thanks to your hospitality, we are getting nicely drunk here. They had an argument. They were good friends, so it must have been a terrible argument, because the one who played chess with my father was so angry that he walked over to the dentist’s house and got the dentist out of bed and shot him. This enraged the other Nazi so much that the next morning he came to our house and he shot my father, and my brother also, who was eight. When he was taken before the German commandant, my father’s murderer explained, ‘He shot my Jew, so I shot his.’ ‘But why did you shoot the child?’ ‘That’s how God-damn angry I was, sir.’ They were reprimanded and told not to do it again. That was all. But even that reprimand was something. There was no law in those days against shooting Jews in their houses, or even on the street.

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