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A sour taste

On gooseberries, Chekhov, still life painting and a bullying father

Children do not much care for gooseberries. As a child I thought them an inferior fruit. In part this was because of their colour: pale green; I thought that a berry ought to be red. Also they were extremely sour: so sour, indeed, that-as the Germans say-they draw the holes in your socks together. For some reason I cannot recall, I conceived the idea early in my life that it was weak and ignoble to sweeten fruit with sugar. Even now I experience a vague feeling of guilt on doing so. If God created gooseberries sour, it was because He…

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