Monday, August 11, 2008

Sparkling Wits

William Carlos Williams, The Autobiography:

There was a story current in Paris at the time of the rival partisans of Joyce and Proust, who had arranged a meeting at a reception one evening between the two great men. Two chairs were placed side by side in the middle of the room. There the heroes were seated while the partisans ranged themselves right and left, waiting for the wits to sparkle and flash.

Joyce said, "I've got headaches every day. My eyes are terrible."

Proust replied, "My poor stomach. What am I going to do? It's killing me. In fact, I must leave at once."

"I'm in the same situation," replied Joyce, "if I can find someone to take me by the arm. Good-bye."

"Charmé," said Proust, "oh, my stomach, my stomach."

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