The Truth

I can imagine someone copying out how Felix Arvers died. It was in a hospital. He was dying gently and serenely, and the nun perhaps thought that he was further along in it than he really was. She shouted out some instructions, in a very loud voice, indicating where something or other could be found. She was a rather uneducated nun; she had never seen in writing the word “corridor,” which at that moment she couldn’t avoid using. Thus it happened that she said “collidor,” thinking that this was the proper way to pronounce it. Thereupon Arvers postponed dying. He felt it was necessary to clear up this matter first. He became perfectly lucid and explained to her that it should be “corridor.” He then died. He was a poet and hated the approximate; or perhaps he was concerned only with the truth; or it annoyed him to be taking along as his last impression the thought that the world would continue to go on carelessly. Whatever the reason was can no longer be determined. But let no one think it was pedantry. Otherwise, the same reproach would fall on the saintly Jean de Dieu, who in the midst of his dying jumped up and ran out to the garden, just in time to cut down the man who had hanged himself there, tidings of whom had in some miraculous way penetrated the hidden tension of his agony. He too was concerned only with the truth.

Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

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