I went – no, I staggered out of the room. Before I had reached the end of the dark corridor the last remnants of my strength left me, and my senses receded so that I had to steady myself by holding on to the wall. So that was it! This was the secret, so belatedly revealed, of her restlessness, her hitherto inexplicable aggressiveness. I was appalled. I felt like one who, stooping innocently over a flower, is stung by an adder. If the hypersensitive creature  had struck me, reviled me, spat at me, I should have been less disconcerted, for in view of her uncertain temper I was prepared for anything but this one thing – that she, an invalid, a poor, afflicted cripple, should be able to love, should desire to be loved; that this child, this half-woman, this immature, impotent creature, should have the temerity (I cannot express it otherwise) to love, to desire, with the conscious and sensual love of a real woman.

Stefan Zweig, “Beware of Pity”.


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