Lettres clandestines by Pierre Mertens

By Pierre Mertens

Fin 1935, à Vienne, quelques jours avant Noël, Alban Berg entre à l'hôpital Rudolf, à mi-chemin de son home de Schönbrunn et du cimetière municipal. Il va mourir à cinquante ans d'une mort quasi «naturelle». Il pense aux êtres qu'il a aimés, à ceux qui ont compté. Sa méditation va de l'un à l'autre : en son for intérieur, il s'adresse à eux. A sa soeur, qui devint lesbienne; à sa femme qu'il lui fallut conquérir de haute lutte; à Schönberg, à qui il devait tout, même une sorte d'asservissement; à une autre femme aussi, rencontrée en 1925 - et l. a. ardour qu'elle lui inspira dut demeurer si clandestine qu'il n'en livra le chiffre qu'enfoui dans los angeles partition de l a set lyrique.Il se souvient d'avoir été humilié, par à peu près tout, et ce qu'il a composé c'est sans doute l'histoire mondiale de l'humiliation : il a jeté sur l. a. scène de l'Opéra, non pas des rois tourmentés ou des marquises en mal de galanterie, mais les offensés et les cocus de l'Histoire. Il songe encore une fois à ce grand amour qu'il ne s'est pas autorisé à vivre vraiment. Il a cru pendant dix ans qu'il s'en remettrait. Mais non. Rideau. Pierre Mertens

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We said no more as to friends, friendship, or French philosophy. I was satisfied, however, that my new acquaintance was anything but a cynic, in spite of his dismissal, so cavalierly, of a subject on which he had entered with such abrupt confidentiality. * * * * * So had its course my breaking into an acquaintance--no, let me not use as burglarious and vehement a phrase, for we do not take the Kingdom of Friendship by violence even though we are assured that there is that sort of an entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven--so was my passing suddenly into the open door of my intimacy (as it turned out to be) with Lieutenant Imre von N.

I was thinking of some matters that are part of the affair, of its ridiculous effect on me, just when you came here and sat down. Ah, the lucky people in this world! " He paused reflectively. I did not break the silence ensuing. " 2 he exclaimed, with a short laugh of no particular merriment. "What must you think of me, my dear sir! Pray pardon me! To be talking along--all 1 2 42 Greek statuary still epitomizes ideal beauty, but there is an underlying irony in Imre 's referral to a culture that showed understanding and acceptance of homosexuality.

His athletic powers were renowned in his regiment. He was among the crack gymnasts, vaulters and swimmers. I have seen him, often, make a standing-leap over an ordinary library table, to land, like a cat, on the other side. I have seen him, half-a-dozen times, spring out of a common barrel into another one placed beside it, without touching his hands to either. He could hold out a heavy gardenchair perfectly straight, with one hand; break a stout penholder or leadpencil between his second and third fingers; and bend a thick, brass curtain-rod by his leg-muscles.

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