The Comfort of Strangers

When I was in London recently, I was on my way to Tate Britain by Underground and found myself sitting next to a man who had rummaged around in his briefcase and pulled out a text which he proceeded to read to himself, mouthing the words as he read. I was curious and looked to see what he was reading. To my surprise it was all in Italian. Surreptitiously, I began reading, and found it to be a fascinating essay on the graves of literary people throughout Europe.

In the end I couldn’t resist and asked my neighbour about his text. He was on his way to an Italian class, and he was to present this paper, preferably from memory, to his colleagues. He told me that they were all very knowledgeable about Italian art and architecture, so he had chosen something different, based on a newly published book by a Dutchman, on literary pilgrimages to the tombs of great writers. No sooner had I found this out than we reached his stop. I’d love to know how the talk went, and I intend to find the book, since I find cemeteries fascinating places.

And they warn you never to talk to strangers!

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