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  "reflections for amateur jockeys"
by franz kafka
 
 
also called (Reflections For Gentlemen-Jockeys)

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Nothing, once you think about it, could tempt you to be the winner of a race.

When the orchestra strikes up, the glory of being hailed as the best horseman in a country is too delightful to prevent remorse from setting in the next morning.

The envy of our opponents- cunning and rather influential men- is bound to cause us pain in the narrow enclosure through which we ride after that vast expanse of racecourse, which soon stretches out empty before us, except for a few straggling riders from the previous round, who were tiny now as they charged toward the edge of the horizon.

Many of our friends are hurrying to collect their winnings and so they merely shout hurrahs to us over their shoulders from the distant betting window; our best friends, however, did not even bet on our horse, for they feared that if they were to lose, they would be angry at us; but, now that our horse has come in first and they have won nothing, they turn away as we pass and they prefer to gaze along the stands.

Our rivals, behinds us, steady in their saddles, trying to overlook the misfortune that has struck them and the injustice that is somehow being done to them; they are putting on cheerful expressions, as if a new race had to begin, and a serious one after such a child's play.

Many women find the winner ridiculous because he struts about and yet cannot cope with the endless handshaking, saluting, bowing, and distant waving, while the losers have shut their mouths and are casually patting the necks of their mostly whinnying horses.

Eventually, the sky clouds over, and it actually starts raining.


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