"You must make your life a poem, Beate. You
must re-create it and participate in it, not unconsciously by merely existing,
but consciously by living it and asserting yourself. Out of a little Greek
expedition against Troy, Homer fashioned the Iliad. We all have the same
power, if not in the realm of art, then at least in that of life. A little
courage, a sense of humor, some energy, and some involvement with humanity:
that's poetry enough to transform your life and lift it to the level of an
exciting experience. |
"Darling, all this advice has probably either put
you to sleep or made you smile, but it's the best birthday present I can give
you. It's also the most sincere and the most enduring. It's not your
'professor' who's writing you now, but your Serge, who loves you."
In June 1961, I met Serge's sister Tanya, who was a teacher of
Russian. We spent a marvelous evening with Claude Nedjar, one of Serge's best
friends, and Cibulsky, an extraordinary Polish actor who was to die in a train
wreck a few years later. We were all so caught up in the Slavic charm of that
evening that Tanya and Serge took me to their mother's.
I had both
looked forward to and dreaded that first meeting with Raissa.
noticed when I was with Serge's Jewish friends that what had happened under
Nazism had prejudiced them and their parents against young Germans. So I
wondered what was in store for me in the next few minutes. Serge had waited a
long time to introduce me to his mother; doubtless I had changed in the last
Raissa took my hand. She was distinguished looking, kindly and
sincere, with an extraordinarily youthful point of view. In just a few minutes
we were getting along well. I helped her make tea, and she reminisced about
Berlin, where she had studied chemistry. She told me how she had come to Paris
from the Bessarabian region of Rumania at the age of sixteen and had been one
of the very few women admitted to study science at the Sorbonne, how she had
married a Rumanian student in the Town Hall of the Fifth Arrondissement, and
then, in her charming Russian accent, she talked about the war. When she told
of the night her husband was arrested, I sensed all the anguish that separates
the Jews and the Germans.