She stands and moves within the invisible pentacle of her own virginity. She is an unbroken egg: she is a sealed vessel; she has inside her a magic space the entrance to which is shut tight with a plug of membrane; she is a closed system; she does not know how to shiver.

Item, I’ve read that there’s not a single virgin to be found in your country,” said the statesman.

“Where might you have read this?” asked the Professor Antiquitatum.

“The good auctor Blefken says this.”

“I wonder if the good auctor might not have misread his sources,” said Arnaeus. “The best auctores tell us that Icelandic girls remain chaste virgins up until they’ve had their seventh child, Your Benevolence.

To love at a distance and without hope; never to possess; to dream chastely of pale charms and impossible kisses extinguished on the waxen brow of death: ah, that is something like it. A delicious straying away from the world, and never the return. As only the unreal is not ignoble and empty, existence must be admitted to be abominable. Yes, imagination is the only good thing which heaven vouchsafes to the skeptic and pessimist, alarmed by the eternal abjectness of life.