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This article is taken from PN Review 39, Volume 11 Number 1, July - August 1984.

from On the Lookout C.H. Sisson
I had been standing by the notice-board of the Department of Philosophy, in the University of Bristol, one day in the summer of 1935, wondering what I should do for a living, when Professor Field emerged from his room and asked whether I would like to have the Viscount Haldane of Cloane Travelling Scholarship, value £100. This solved all my problems, or at least deferred them for another year, which I regarded as much the same thing. With the £60 I thought I could get out of the City of Bristol, I could see my way to going to Paris which is where I wanted to go. The rate of exchange was unfavourable, so even with £60 - less what I must keep against my return - I could not stay for the whole year. But I could stay for six months.

That is how, in the autumn of the same year I came to be sitting at the end of a long table in a pension at 75, rue de cardinal Lemoine, absolutely speechless. I could reach French fairly fluently, if it was not too hard, but on arrival in Paris I discovered that I could not speak a word, certainly not a sentence. What was worse, I could not understand anything. At dinner on the first evening my place was set without a knife, and I did not get one till Madame discovered my distress. All the length of the table the conversation poured out. It poured ...


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