It came to him one day this kind of difficulty, around hurt between lovers, was something he’d seen before, and not just once or twice, though it always looked a little different. He thought it might be that each of us inhabits one of two very different universes. In the first everyone is a sinner and forgiveness readily had, necessarily. In the second there are both sinners and saints, needing forgiveness what tells them apart. Y thought he inhabited the first of these, that it had something to do with his having grown up Catholic, where he learned about such things at seven or eight with total absolution already once a month, rather like one sweeps the stairway, so young in fact it was often he could think of nothing to tell the priest and had to resort to invention. It may be that he understood forgiveness even before sin.

The Italian Novel

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