Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 88

one evening,. "the fate of
was decided in 1915." He
referred to the fact that in this Austrian town of the border he had
almost been prevented by some jinx from crossing into Switzerland
during the first World War. When the train finally came in, he
rushed to the nearest car in order to examine the French, German
and Yugo-Slav inscriptions, palped the letters with the sensitive
fingers of defective vision. Then he would ask me questions about
the persons getting on or off the train. He would try to listen to
their conversations. His fine ear for dialectal nuances in German
often astonished me. When the train continued on its way into the
usually foggy night, he stood on the platform waving his hat, as if
he had just bid godspeed to a dear friend. With eight o'clock
approaching, he almost skipped back to the hotel, for his first
draught of
as Mrs. Joyce, who thought the drink
of rather inferior quality, used to say,
After .a while I started making preparations for a new issue
and this stimulated him to work. He attacked the
problem with savage energy. "How difficult it is to put pen to paper
again," he said, one evening. "Those first sentences have cost me
a great deal of pain." But gradually the task was in hand. It was
to be known later as
The Mime of Mick, Nick
the Maggies.
wrote steadily on this fragment during those frenetic months, con·
stantly interrupted by moments of anxiety about the health of his
daughter, and his own resultant nervousness. At his hotel, where
we would work in the afternoon, he gave me a densely written fools·
cap sheet beginning with the words: "Every evening at lighting up
o'clock sharp and until further notice ..."which I typed for him.
After a few pages had thus been transcribed, we began to look '
through .the note-books-which he lugged around on all his travels
-and the additions, set down years before for a still unwritten
text he had merely outlined in his mind, became more and more
numerous. The manuscript grew into thirty pages and was not yet
finished. He never changed a single word. There was always a
certain inevitability, an almost volcanic affirmativeness about his
primal choice of words. To me, his deformations seemed to grow
more daring. He added, ceaselessly, like a worker in mosaic,
enriching his original pattern with ever new inventions.
"There really is no coincidence in this book," he said during
one of our walks. "I might easily have written this story in the
traditional manner.... Every novelist knows the recipe.... It is
80,81,82,83,84,85,86,87 89,90,91,92,93,94,95,96,97,98,...160
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