Seeing something I have written in print always evokes the wish that I could snatch the words back, if only for a moment, to correct or change them. Manuscripts of notable novels and poems are almost always indecipherable squiggles, cross-outs, arrows, editing marks. Second, third and fourth thoughts are essential for clarity and elegance of expression. As the great Thomas Mann put it, “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
Henreich Heine, the German-Jewish poet, wrote more than a century ago, ìder vorhang fallt, das stuck ist aus,î the curtain falls, the play is done. Then, in that tragic coda, the ax fell, too. Yet the drama goes on, a few German-Jews puttering around on a stage they refuse to leave, enchanted by that language.ìWir haben viel fur einander gefuhlt,î how deeply we were wrapped in each otherís lives, wrote Heine.