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Julian Barnes

“What makes us want to know the worst? Is it that we tire of preferring to know the best? Does curiosity always hurdle self-interest? Or is it, more simply, that wanting to know the worst is love’s favourite perversion? … I loved Ellen, and i wanted to know the worst. I never provoked her; I was cautious and defensive, as is my habit; I didn’t even ask questions; but I wanted to know the worst. Ellen never returned this caress. She was fond of me - she would automatically agree, as if the matter weren’t worth of discussing, that she loved me - but she unquestioningly believed the best about me. That’s the difference. She didn’t ever search for that sliding panel which opens the secret chamber of the heart, the chamber where the memory and corpses are kept. Sometimes you find the panel but it doesn’t open; sometimes it opens, and your gaze meets nothing but a mouse skeleton. But at least you’ve looked. That’s the real distinction between people: not between those who have secrets and those who don’t, but between those who want to know everything and those who don’t. This search is a sign of love, I maintain.”


Julian Barnes, Flaubert's Parrot
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Flaubert's Parrot Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes
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