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“Physics engineer” was the standard answer I gave as a boy to the standard question about my future. The only reason was that I wanted to follow in my father's footsteps. But in my teenage years it became clear that I had less talent for, say, geometry than for languages. I was especially impressed with the French teacher who not only enthused classes about literature but also gave reading tips pitched at our age: not (yet) Balzac, Flaubert or Proust, but Gide, Camus, de Saint Exupéry and Fournier. I did …
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