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181

(1921) Author: Sigrid Undset
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“Yes. Celibacy, of course, is not the same to women as
to men. It often means that they are kept outside all those
things in life which people make the most fuss about — simply
that whole groups of organs, mental as well as physical, are
wasting away unused. Ugh! Sometimes I almost wish you
would be a little frivolous for once and have done with it all,
so that you could work in peace and quiet afterwards.”

“Women who have been a little frivolous, as you say, are
not done with it. If they were disappointed the first time,
they hope for better luck the next. One does not settle down
disappointed, and before you know it you have had many a
try.”

“Not you,” he said quickly.

“Thanks. It is quite new to hear you speak like that. You
have always said that when women begin such a life they
invariably end by being dragged down completely.”

“Most of them do. But there must be some exceptions. It
applies to those who have no other instincts in life than a man
— not to those who are something by themselves and not only
of female sex. Why should you, for instance, not be true and
loyal to a man even if you both saw that you could not give up
everything to tie yourself down as his wife for the rest of your
life? Love always dies sooner or later. Don’t let yourself be
deceived on that point.”

“Yes; we know it — but still we won’t believe it.” She
laughed. “No, my friend — either we love and believe it is
the only thing worth living for, or we do not love — and are
unhappy because we don’t.”

“Jenny, I don’t like to hear you speak like that. No; to
feel oneself in full vigour, with all faculties alert, ready to
adopt and appropriate, to adapt and produce, make the utmost
possible of oneself — work — that is the only thing worth living
for, believe me.”

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