By Jason Weiss
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Extra resources for Writing at risk: interviews in Paris with uncommon writers
Christianity is guilty of leading a campaign against this idea. ' " One should live by way of this idea of suicide. " JW: Even in your most recent writings you've written about suicide. " For me, everything that I've experienced in this life is contained in that phrase. JW: But you were considering suicide when you yourself were quite young. What made you decide to go on? Page 21 EMC: Because I considered life as a delaying of suicide. I had thought I wasn't going to live past thirty. But it wasn't from cowardice, I was always postponing my suicide, see.
When one reads the letters he wrote at the same time, one sees that he's pitiful, it's very touching, Page 4 like a character out of Chekhov. I was attached to him in my youth, but not later on. He's a great writer, though, a great stylist. JW: Yet critics often compare you to him, saying you follow in his tracks. EMC: No, that's a mistake, I think. But it is obvious that his way of writing made an impression on me. He had things that other Germans didn't, because he read a lot of the French writers.
And so I came to France in '37, I was twenty-six, Page 13 and instead of setting about to write in French, I wrote in Rumanian up until '47, but without publishing anything. I wrote lots of things. Then I was in a village in Normandy in 1947 and I was translating Mallarmé into Rumanian. All of a sudden it struck me that this made no sense. I'm in France, I'm not a poet to begin with, I translate poorly, why am I doing this? I didn't want to go back to my own country. And that was a sort of illumination.