theresaurus

December 14, 2014

Advent calendar

Filed under: books — theresaurus @ 11:37 pm

I was ridiculously excited to see Advent calendars in a gift shop in Sam’s hometown, and 20% off, too: only ¥320!

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From Dostoyevsky’s The House of the Dead:

“The holidays were approaching.  On the eve of the great day the convicts scarcely ever went to work. … Towards evening the old soldiers, who executed the convicts’ commissions, brought for them all kinds of victuals — meat, suckling pigs, and geese.  Many prisoners, even the most simple and economical, after saving up their kopecks throughout the year, thought they ought to spend some of them this day, so as to celebrate Christmas Eve in a worthy manner.

“Through the little windows of our barracks, half hidden by the snow and the ice, could be seen, flaming in the darkness, the bright fire of the two kitchens where six stoves had been lighted. …  It was beginning to get late.  The stars were paling, a light, icy mist was rising from the earth, and spirals of smoke were ascending in curls from the chimneys.

“The cooks were preparing the dinner which was to take place a little earlier than usual. … The cooks were wanted in order to receive gifts brought from all parts of the town in enormous numbers: loaves of white bread, scones, rusks, pancakes, and pastry of various kinds. … Amongst those gifts there were some magnificent ones, including a good many cakes of the finest flours.  There were also some very poor ones, such as rolls worth two kopecks a piece, and a couple of brown rolls, covered lightly with sour cream.  These were the offerings of the poor to the poor.

“The Commandant was liked, even respected.  He made the tour of the barracks in company with the Mayor, wishing the convicts a happy Christmas, went into the kitchen, and tasted the cabbage soup.  It was excellent that day.  Every convict was entitled to nearly a pound of meat, besides which there was millet-seed in it, and certainly the butter had not been spared. … I could never understand how, five minutes after the Mayor left, there was a mass of drunken prisoners, whereas as long as he remained every one was perfectly calm. … Red radiant faces were now numerous, and the balalaiki soon appeared.”

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