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self-pitying but popular playwright drives to Vladimir to relax with a doting female student and another writer. He's convinced his writing is of no lasting value, but he still has an ego, about his work and his masculine appeal. He's drawn to a museum guide he sees on his first afternoon, and when she appears at dinner, he tries charm. She reads widely, knows his work, loved it once and now finds it trivial; and she says so. He's stung. The next day, they walk through a cemetery where she talks of a dead peasant's poems and he grabs an idea of hers as the theme for a new play. She remains indifferent; he's baffled. So that night he spies on her. All is revealed.

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