A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski

By Wiesław Myśliwski

Our hero and narrator is the getting older caretaker of cottages at a summer season hotel. A mysterious customer conjures up him to proportion the tale of his lengthy lifestyles: we witness a contented formative years minimize brief by way of the warfare, his hiding from the Nazis buried in a heap of potatoes, his plodding makes an attempt to play the saxophone, the brutal homicide of his kin, loves misplaced yet remembered, and footloose travels in a foreign country. informed within the demeanour of buddies and associates swapping tales over the mundane job of shelling beans—in the grand oral culture of Myśliwski’s celebrated Stone Upon Stone—each anecdote, lived adventure, and reminiscence accrues cross-stitched layers of which means. through turns hilarious and poignant, A Treatise on Shelling Beans is an epic recounting of a lifestyles that, whereas common, is whatever yet usual.

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It snows there. Life can be as harsh as it is in Maine. Nor was Jefferson any drawling dilettante; he was severe in his demands upon himself and upon others, including his two hundred slaves. He had them shear off the entire mountaintop at Monticello, so that the villa he placed upon this platform was visible for twenty miles from the lowlands. Party and Faction Jefferson was a Man of Will. He shaped not only a mountain but a nation, refusing to brook obstacles physical or personal. Burr and Hamilton were fourteen years younger than Jefferson— too young to have played a role in the declaring of independence, though both served in the ensuing war, as Jefferson did not.

Jefferson's response to Hamilton's charges was that his accuser was "a man whose history, from the moment at which history can stoop to notice him, is a tissue of machinations against the liberty of the country . . "12 Corruption was incompatible with "character," as these men used the term. Our use of the term "integrity" reminds us that for them a person of character manifested a harmonious wholeness out of which correct behavior ensued. Character did not necessarily require goodness of heart, nor was a person of character expected to be generous.

Brought forth from the United States a succession of adventurers, chief among whom was Aaron Burr. . 8 Let us reconsider that last line. Is it true? Is it not a better assessment of our principal characters to conclude that Alexander Hamilton was the analogue to Cortez among the Founders? Hamilton was a born scrapper. Burr was not. He avoided unpleasantness. When we consider the drama of Cortez winning an empire in Mexico, we think not of Burr but of Hamilton. And when we consider how Cortez kept that empire, we do not think of Burr but of the absence, among his Spanish competitors, of anyone as clever as Jefferson.

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