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This article is taken from PN Review 19, Volume 7 Number 5, May - June 1981.

Meetings with Leon Chestov (tr. David Gascoyne) Benjamin Fondane

UNFORGETTABLE afternoons! Scarcely had I arrived,Chestov prepared the tea, and, I don't know how, the first banalities having been exchanged, the day's events exfoliated, dusk found us plunged into a full tide of philosophic dialogue. Dialogue? I flatter myself! It was a monologue, I was scarcely present, a veritable dialogue of the soul with herself. For years, I never dared intrude; I snatched scraps of this fulgurating stream of thought, from which I had to eliminate the skin, the pips, I mean the numerous Latin and Greek texts to which I was later to become accustomed. When I had become slightly more au courant, I thought I had understood that it was better not to intervene in the monologue, to arouse contradictions, show signs of my difficulties. I formed the habit of weighing up the substance at home, when the session was ended, of attempting all by myself to resolve the doubts, to guess the answers, to await them at the corner. I felt the questions one ought not to ask, I knew that, these questions, Chestov had already asked himself them and that, in any case, the less an answer was possible, the more important the question appeared to him. I felt also that to the real questions, a sort of pudeur prevented a reply, that one could not even reply 'I love', when one really loved. King Lear and his good daughter Cordelia! How many times, in those early days, I wanted to ask him: 'Do you ...


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