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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 18 | volume IV | January, 2001



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 18January, 2001

The Last Window Giraffe

A Picture Dictionary for Five and Above (excerpts)

p. 1
Péter Zilahy

The window giraffe was a picture book from which we learned to read when we didn't know how to. I could read already, but I had to learn it anyway, because that's what's school for. The window giraffe revealed the world to us in alphabetical order. Everything had its rhyme and reason, both symbolic and everyday. We learned from it that the sun rises in the east, that our hearts are on the left, that the Great October Revolution was in November, and that light comes through the window, even when it is closed. The window giraffe was full of seven-headed dragons, fairies, devils and princes, and told us that they do not exist. I remember four kinds of dragons that do not exist, and also three princes. Syllable by syllable, the window giraffe taught us to read between the lines. It was taken as much for granted as the teddy-bear on TV before bedtime. Nobody thought of questioning it. The window giraffe was the window giraffe. The window giraffe is my childhood, the changing room, the P.E. class, and growing all the time, an age before a better age, the soft dictatorship, my homework, my innocence, my generation. The window giraffe is a book, and I was one of its characters. Twenty years later, when asked, I realized that the first and last words, the alpha and omega, are 'window' and 'giraffe'.. Yes. The window is the beginning, light comes through the window, the giraffe is the end of endlessness, surrealism, flaming giraffes, we will live for ever! A lexicon which contains what's been left out.

Paris has its own window giraffe. I saw it on a postcard. It’s called the I-fell-tower. Zsófi Brünner sent it after she defected with her parents to France, and was now studying from a French alphabet book. The I-fell-tower has a long neck, four legs, and an awful lot of windows. It is both window and giraffe, and its name sounds good too, excitement and promise in one, the promise of a sudden leap, the final break from a worm's eye-view, which the express elevator inside degrades into a question of technology. Zsófi looked a bit like a giraffe herself, except she didn’t have a window or an express elevator inside. The express elevator was in my throat when she tip-toed over to my desk on her matchstick legs and let me smell her

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