05 January 2022

from The Balkan Trilogy (Olivia Manning)

The difficulty of dealing with Guy, she thought, lay in the fact that he was so often right.  She and Clarence could claim that their evening had been spoilt by the presence of Dubedat.  She knew it had, in fact, been spoilt not by Guy's generosity but their own lack of it. 


Guy had taken her there once but the visit had depressed her.  She liked the Greek boys but was shy with them - being so constituted that she could cope with only one or two people at a time; but Guy, she saw, was having the time of his life.  He was an adolescent among adolescents, and they were all elevated by the belief that, together, they would reform the world.  She was made uneasy by their faith in certain political leaders, their condemnation of others, the atmosphere of conspiracy and her own guilty self-doubt.  She was an individual and as such had no hope of reforming the world.  The stories that inspired them - stories of injustic and misery - merely roused in her a sense of personal failure.

'But you must sacrifice your individuality,' Guy told her.  'It's nothing but egoism.  You must unite with other right-thinking, self-abnegating people - then you can achieve anything.'

The idea filled her with gloom.

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