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А / Александр Степанович Грин /
Alexander Grin. The ships in Liss



Alexander Grin. The ships in Liss
---------------------------------------------------------------
(translated by Barry Scherr)
Alexander Grin, "The Seeker of Adventure, Selected Stories",
М., Прогресс, 1978, 484 с.
Origin: "Корабли в Лиссе" Ў r_liss.txt
OCR: Ivi ---------------------------------------------------------------

I

There are people who remind you of an old-fashioned snuffbox. When you pick up such an object, you ponder it fruitfully. It is an entire generation, and we are alien to it. The snuffbox is placed among other appropriate little objects and is shown to guests, but rarely does its owner use it as an everyday item. Why? Do the centuries daunt him? Or are the forms of another time, so deceptively similar to modern forms geometrically, so different in essence that to see them constantly, to be in constant contact with them, means to live imperceptibly in the past? Is this perhaps a shallow thought about a complex disparity? Hard to tell. But, as I began to say, there are people who remind you of an ancient everyday item, and the spiritual essence of these people is as alien to the manner of life around them as the above-mentioned snuffbox to a price gouger from the Hotel Lisbon. Whether in childhood, or at one of those turning points in life when the developing character seems to be like a liquid saturated with a mineral solution - disturb it just a little and it will all irreversibly congeal into crystals that form with the speed of lightning-maybe at such a turning point, thanks to a chance impression or something else, their soul adopts a steadfast form once and for all. Its needs are naive and poetic: the integrity, completeness, and the charm of the habitual, where daydreams dwell so serenely and comfortably, free of the moment's cavils. Such a person prefers horses to trains, candles to electric bulbs, the downy plait of a girl to her artful coiffure with its smell of burning and musk, roses to chrysanthemums, and the ungainly sailing vessel with its lofty mass of white sails that reminds you of a jawly face with a clear brow above blue eyes, to th steamship pretty as a toy. His inner life is of necessity guarded, while his external life consists of mutual repulsions.

II

Just as there are such people, so are there families houses, and even cities and harbours that are guided by a spirit all their own.
There is no port more disorderly and marvellous than Liss, except of course Zurbagan. The international, multilingual city strongly reminds one of a tramp who has finally decided to bury himself in the fog of a settled life. The homes straggle helter-skelter along the vague suggestions of streets, but streets in the proper sense of the word could not exist in Liss, if only because the city emerged on the sides of cliffs and hills, connected by steps, bridges, and spiral-shaped pathways. All of this is covered by a solid mass of tropical greenery, in the fan-shaped sh


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