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Lost in Literature

122 views. 2023-9-22 20:39 | reading, meet

The girl sat alone in her seat against the window and meanwhile next to the aisle, fully immersed in the book she held in her hands. Her posture exuded a graceful elegance, a serene figure lost in the world of words, a figure from the quality of self-cultivation. As I walked past, a surge of curiosity compelled me to inquire about the book that had her so enthralled. She seemed unaware of my presence, so I discreetly glanced at the book's cover.

She looked up, her eyes meeting mine with a warm, subtle smile at the corners of her lips. "What are you reading?" I asked, my voice barely more than a whisper. "I'm genuinely curious about the title. It seems fascinating."

"Why don't you take a look for yourself?" she replied, extending the book cover toward me with an inviting gesture. I leaned in, savoring the moment as I carefully read the title in whisper, "Le Rouge et le Noir." I couldn't help but inquire, "Do you read French?" My curiosity was tinged with intrigue.

She nodded, her humility shining through. "Yes, but only to a limited extent. The content is in English, except for the title, which remains in French."

Her response left me genuinely impressed. "You've done remarkably well. I read it in the Chinese version. What are your thoughts? I found the protagonist's entanglement with his two lovers to be a vivid and moving story," I shared my enthusiasm.

Her smile broadened. "I share your passion. I decided to explore the English edition as well. If my French were more proficient, I'd opt for the original."

I reassured her, "No need to worry. It's already commendable that you're delving into the English version." A serene silence enveloped us as we both returned to our respective literary worlds.

"Which character resonates with you the most?" I continued.

"Pardon me?"

"Among the characters, Julien, Madame de Rénal, or Mathilde? Or perhaps, all of them."

"I find each of them engaging, as every single character contributes to the intricate tapestry of the narrative. Don't you think? Beyond its exploration of love, the book delves deep into the pursuit of social status and the conflicts between the upper classes and the poor."

"You've captured the essence," I commended.

Then my mention of "À la recherche du temps perdu" seemed to light up her eyes with delight. "But it's quite an extensive read. I've only managed to cover about one-fifth of it, and just to clarify, I'm reading the Chinese edition," I explained sincerely, my voice barely above a whisper.

After a while, I broke the silence. "I think I'll give it a try. It seems like a fantastic way to immerse oneself in foreign literature and acquire new language skills."

"That's precisely why I'm engrossed in it, and 'In Search of Lost Time' as well," she replied with a smile, pulling a volume of the book from her bag. The English title on the spine immediately caught my attention. "What an amazing coincidence," I nearly exclaimed, my excitement bubbling over. Lowering my voice, I offered a heartfelt thumbs-up to applaud her impeccable literary taste.

"Right, it's quite a hefty read. It's been a challenge for me to carry all the volumes, so I only have the first one with me."

As my impending departure drew near, driven by my demanding schedule, I mustered the courage to take the initiative. "Would you mind if I added you on WeChat? Perhaps we could delve deeper into our shared interests in literature someday."

She considered my request for a moment, her brow furrowing in contemplation. Then, with a nod and another warm smile, she accepted. "Of course, it's evident that your passion for learning shines through. Catch you later."

And just like that, a serendipitous encounter in the quiet aisle of the library had led to a newfound connection, forged through our mutual love for literature and language. Before parting ways, I expressed my gratitude: "Merci!"

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