This is from a sensitive novel about immigrants from eastern Europe coping with the culture of the UK, their adoptive country.  Here they are discussing a hike to a cave.  I loved the response of Rudi to Lev’s question: firstly, he had an objective in mind, secondly he was able to articulate it beautifully, even though you can’t help wondering if he made it up on the spot once prompted by the question.

And if we were to ask ‘what the objective was’ every time a boss or other manager cooked up another great scheme, would it create less waste and stress?  (We take it as read that your job might soon be at risk).

I also like Rudi’s objective because it reminds me of Mahler’s belief that a symphony should embrace the world.

‘Rudi said that their destination was a cave, on the lower slopes of the Kalinin range. If they could reach the cave, they would have achieved their objective.  When Lev had asked what the objective was, Rudi had replied: “To embrace something.”‘


Source: The Road Home, Rose Tremain (London: Chatto & Windus, 2007), p. 112


Photo credit: Breanna Galley at


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