The Big Insult
An old lady stands in front of a Viennese shop that sells silk stockings. She seems so fragile, "as if she had stepped from a snow-white tobacco box before leaving her flat". A Russian emigrant, a woman with a past, memories of which are triggered by the window display: memories of dances, duels, real and false affairs, a happy childhood marked by bad luck. Now she is alone, "dissatisfied to remain alive and wearied by the thought of being unable to do anything about it".
In the four mysterious stories of this book, very little happens, and yet they touch upon almost every facet of human existence. The protagonists – the old lady; a writer working on "the invention of a happy man"; a film director refusing to leave his room; a ballerina unable to dance – are convinced that "the right things will finally happen without our intervention (however ingenious)". They all dream of beauty or, as director Nohál says: "I want to create something that I could show, without embarrassment, to Giotto".