80 Jaar Philip Roth
Uit: Portnoy’s Complaint
“how do they get so gorgeous, so healthy, so blonde? my contempt for what they believe in is more than neutralized by my adoration of the way they look, the way they move and laugh and speak – the lives they must lead behind those goyische curtains! maybe a pride of shikses is more like it – or is it a pride of shkotzim? for these are the girls whose older brothers are the engaged, good-natured, confident, clean, swift, and powerful halfbacks for the collage football teams called northwestern and texas christian and ucla. their fathers are men with white hair and deep voices who never use double negatives, and their mothers the ladies with the kindly smiles and the wonderful manners who say things like, “i do believe, mary, that we sold thirty-five cakes at the bake sale.” “don’t be too late, dear,” they sing out sweetly to their little tulips as they go bouncing off in their bouffant taffeta dresses to the junior prom with boys whose names are right out of the grade-school reader, not aaron and arnold and marvin, but johnny and billy and jimmy and tod
not portnoy and pincus, but smith and jones and brown! these people are the americans, doctor – like henry aldrich and homer, like the great gildersleeve and his nephew LeRoy, like corliss and veronica, like “oogie pringle” who gets to sing beneath jane powell’s window in a date wth judy – these are the people for whom nat “king” cole sings every christmastime, “chestnits roasting on an open fire, jack frost nipping at your nose…” an open fire, in my house? no, no, theirs are the noses whereof he speaks. not his flat black one or my long bumpy one, but those tiny bridgeless wonders whose nostrils point northward automatically at birth. and stay that way for life! these are the children from the coloring books come to life, the children they mean on the signs we pass in union, new jersey, that say CHILDREN AT PLAY and DRIVE CAREFULLY, WE LOVE OUR CHILDREN – these are the girls and boys who live, “next door,” the kids who are always asking for “the jalopy” and getting into “jams” and then out of them again in time for the final commercial – the kids whose neighbors aren’t he silversteins and the landaus, but fibber mcgee and molly, and ozzie and harriet, and ethel and albert, and lorenzo jones and his wife belle, and jack armstrong! jack armstrong, the all-american goy! – and jack as in john, not jack as in jake, like my father… look, we ate our meals with the radio blaring right away through to the dessert, the glow of the yellow station band is the last light i see each night before sleep – so don’t tell me we’re just as good as anybody else, don’t tell me we’re americans just like they are. no, no, these blond-haired christians are the legitimate residents and owners of this place, and they can pump any song they want into the streets and no one is going to stop them either. o america! america! it may have been gold in the streets to my grandparents, it may have been a chicken in every pot to my father and mother, but to me, a child whose earliest movie memories are of ann rutherford and alice faye, america is a shikse nestling under your arm whispering love love love love love!”
Philip Roth (Newark, 19 maart 1933)
Uit: Referred Pain and Other Stories (Heat)
“When I was a young woman I had a secret passion. At first I didn’t quite grasp that it was a genuine passion. I was married and thought I already had what I wanted. This other thing, I thought, was just fascination and fondness. Also he was too old and a little ugly. But as time passed I recognized it for what it was.
It was his size, first of all. Very large. Imposing. When he got up out of a chair I could see the air shifting deferentially to make room for him, as if the very air at his proximity undulated in its yielding, like fabric or flesh. He was infused with gravity, like a rooted tree or a large piece of machinery, and walked with deliberation, as if he drew strength from the ground and was reluctant to lose touch with it. And his darkness. His skin was leathery, his hair so black and smooth it looked like metal. And his voice. Deep, as if it snaked up from someplace near his groin. Deep and a trifle harsh, almost with a sneering edge. Yet full of kindness. A kindly sneer, if such a thing is possible. And courteous, safe, gray eyes.
He came to our house, sometimes with his wife. He sat in the big armchair, a golden drink in his hand, his feet rooted to the floor, his arms resting on the armrests like Lincoln in his stone chair in his monument. He spoke in his deep, pebbly, sneering, warm voice and smoked cigarettes, wrinkling his brow with each puff, holding the end facing inward so I wondered how his palm didn’t get burned. He befriended my young, boyish husband, took him under his wing in their shared line of work. He was kind. And I wanted to be near him and hear his voice.
He felt it too. He looked at me with appreciation and desire, the kind of desire that is civilized and tamed when it would be out of the question to let it run free. The kind of desire that in a man of his age grows wry and ironic and mellow, yet doesn’t shrivel or seep away.”
Lynne Sharon Schwartz (New York, 19 maart 1939)
Uit: Du störst mich nicht (Über Thomas und Heinrich Mann: Briefwechsel 1900-1949)
“Im übrigen scheint Thomas allein zu dem Älteren zu sprechen: launenhaft, übermütig, gelegentlich boshaft, dann wieder herzlich, fast gefühlvoll. Aber dem Leser ergeht es dabei sonderbar. Heinrich Mann ist stets präsent. Sein Schweigen, zunächst als Verlust und Zufall zu verstehen, ist tönend; es hat Funktion in der merkwürdigen Partitur dieses Briefwechsels. So gewinnt der Leser bei den Briefen nach 1933 nicht den Eindruck, nun erst sei Heinrich Mann vernehmbar geworden. Er war auch vorher stets gegenwärtig. Jeder Brief nämlich von Thomas war gegen den Älteren gleichsam “angeschrieben” worden.
Heinrich Mann hat es gewußt. Auf dem Höhepunkt ihrer öffentlichen und privaten Entzweiung, gegen Ende des Ersten Weltkrieges, in einem Brief, der konzipiert, aber nicht abgeschickt wurde, erläuterte er die Konstellation ebenso hart wie zutreffend: “Du hast, nach allem was ich sehe, Deine Bedeutung in meinem Leben unterschätzt, was das natürliche Gefühl betrifft, und überschätzt hinsichtlich der geistigen Beeinflussung. Die letztere, negativ von Gestalt, ist einseitig von Dir erlitten worden, Du mußt diese Wahrheit schon hinnehmen, es ist keine bloße Schmähung, wie alle die mehr pathetischen als ethischen Wendungen Deines Briefes.” Worauf der Briefschreiber auch die eigene Position fixiert: “Was mich betrifft, ich empfinde mich als durchaus selbständige Erscheinung, und mein Welterlebnis ist kein brüderliches, sondern eben das meine. Du störst mich nicht.”
So wie er nun vorliegt, bestätigt der Briefwechsel diese Diagnose einer brüderlich-literarischen Beziehung. Jeder Brief Thomas Manns, selbst dort, wo er auf materielle Not eingehen muß, Schwierigkeiten des Exils, Krankheiten, Unglücks- und Todesfälle. Literatur und Politik, steht — darin völlig adäquat seinem literarischen Gesamtwerk — unter dem Motto, das als Schlußsatz des autobiographischen Essays “Bilse und ich” schon 1906 formuliert wurde: “Nicht von Euch ist die Rede, gar niemals, seid des nun getröstet, sondern von mir, von mir …”
Hans Mayer (19 maart 1907 – 19 mei 2001)
But also true winged soil is not necessary.
Earth is not, it will be heaven.
No field, it will be done.
No steam, it will cloud.
This is probably true bird …
But what about the man? And what about the man?
He lives on the ground. I do not fly.
A wing has. A wing has!
They are the wings, not down, now, “I
And of truth, virtue and trust “me.
Who – with fidelity in love.
Who – with eternal aspirations.
Who – with sincerity to work.
Who – with generosity to care.
Who – the song, or hope,
Or with poetry, or dreams.
Man allegedly does not fly …
A wing has. A wing has!
In the days lived sadly and simply
In the days lived sadly and simply,
Everything was as pure snow.
As a dark-eyed wonderful guest
I waited for you from roads.
You were late, came not soon.
I whiled away the time in sorrow,
And in times not good for the heart
I told someone: “I love you.”
Someone lifted me into the sky.
I inhaled, it was blue…
And didn’t dream of you anymore.
And sometimes I stopped,
Spread my hands speechless,
As if waiting for wonderful news
From the land no one knows…
There is heart’s expiation –
To forget evil is easier,
Than what was supposed to be
But never happened in life.
Lina Kostenko (Rzhyshchiv, 19 maart 1930)
O English mother, in the ruddy glow
Hugging your baby closer when outside
You see the silent, soft, and cruel snow
Falling again, and think what ills betide
Unshelter’d creatures,–your sad thoughts may go
Where War and Winter now, two spectre-wolves,
Hunt in the freezing vapour that involves
Those Asian peaks of ice and gulfs below.
Does this young Soldier heed the snow that fills
His mouth and open eyes? or mind, in truth,
To-night, his mother’s parting syllables?
Ha! is’t a red coat?–Merely blood. Keep ruth
For others; this is but an Afghan youth
Shot by the stranger on his native hills.
William Allingham (19 maart 1824 – 18 november 1889)
Ballyshannon met St Anne’s Church