…she was also the most lonely and sad. She was a genius of sadness immersing herself in it, separating its numerous strands, appreciating its subtle nuances. She was a prism through which sadness could be divided into its infinite spectrum.

Are you sad, Yankel? she asked one morning over breakfast.

Of course, he said, feeding melon slices into her mouth with a shaking spoon.


Because you are talking instead of eating your breakfast.

Were you sad before that?

Of course.


Because you were eating then, instead of talking, and I become sad when I don’t hear your voice.

When you watch people dance, does that make you sad?

Of course. 

It also makes me sad. Why do you think it does that?

He kissed her on the forehead, put his hand under her chin. You really must eat, he said. It’s getting late.

Do you think Bitzl Bitzl is a particularly sad person?

I don’t know.

What about grieving Shanda?

Oh yes, she’s particularly sad.

That’s an obvious one, isnt’ it? Is Shloim sad?

Who knows?

The twins?

Maybe. It’s none of our business.

Is God sad?

He would have to exist to be sad, wouldn’t He?

I know, she said, giving his shoulder a little slap. That’s why I was asking, so I might finally know if you believed!

Well, let me leave it at this: if God does exist, He would have a great deal to be sad about. And if He doesn’t exist, then that too would make Him quite sad, I imagine. So to answer your question, God must be sad.

Yankel! She wrapped her arms around his neck, as if trying to pull herself into him, or him into her.

Brod discovered 613 sadnesses, each perfectly unique, each a singular emotion, no more similar to any other sadness than to anger, ecstasy, guilt, or frustration. Mirror Sadness. Sadness of Domesticated Birds. Sadness of Being Sad in Front of One’s Parent. Humor Sadness. Sadness of Love Without Release. 

Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer, pp. 78-79


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