Is this about a meeting of two writers or three?

PAULINA. I mean “was that a meeting of two writers or three”? Even if it never happened.

NILS. Thomans Mann. Jean-Paul Sartre. And a shadow.

CORINNE. Hi everybody! Simone speaking (the so-called shadow). For a person of my age – over 100 – I think I manage quite well with this strange object called blog.


NILS. Picture that: It’s not only the shadow. There is of course a photographer as well. A Lithuanian. Not a writer, but a storyteller. He cropped Simone out of the picture. And what about Thomas Mann? He never travelled alone. Hypothesis: When two persons meet far from home, it’s a beginning of … yes, maybe a story. And maybe a story of someone else.

PAULINA. Mann might not have travelled to Nida alone, but was his companion an important writer/thinker? de Beauvoir was cropped out then, but why are we cropping her out today?

NILS. Do we?

PAULINA. The title of this blog does not include her.

NILS. I know what you mean. May I qoute Antanas Sutkus, the photographer, who took the picture of Sartre in Nida and did the “cropwork”? He says: “The purpose of taking a photograph is not to reflect the objective reality. My heart and mind have always been closely related with a man standing in front of my camera. People are the way they are but if I take their pictures, they are my people, the people I see. I use my camera to fathom the world that surrounds me.” So you could say: The purpose of picking a title ist not to reflect the objective reality. Or you could as well say: People are the way they are but if I write their story, they are my people, the people I imagine. So it’s very easy to put Simone de Beauvoir in. Or Antanas Sutkus. Or someone of the Mann-Clan.

PAULINA. I think the purpose of a title is to reflect the general position and intentions. And so it does. It’s nothing to do with reality or fiction. This is not about ‘people as they are’, it’s about decisons. It’s easy to put anyone in, but that’s not the point!

NILS. Right. I got you before. On the other hand, what is behind the title? Fiction. And your decision is to put reality back in. Which I like.

PAULINA. Or change the title. “A posssibility of free decision”? (JPS)

PAULINA. I, personally, am puting Yoda in. But my main characters are still 3, not 2.

NILS. Why not 4 or 5? When JPS was in Nida, there were some Lithuanian writers with him, too. Mieželaitis Edward and Michael Sluckis. A funny sidenote: Sartre talked with the photographer Antanas Sutkus about Virginia Woolf and Tom Wolfe for example. The two writers from Lithuania had never heard about them before.

PAULINA. Sartre thought that Sutkus was a writer too. But my point is about marginalising women – then and, at least it seems so, now. Soviet nomenklatura writers Edward and Michael were not visiting, they were deemed trustwothry to accompany the visitors from the West.

NILS. Just to provoke you: You think the mindgame itself – TM meets JPS – has already something to do with marginalising women? If so, let’s make a quick check. Another mindgame – Simone de Beauvoir meets Zadie Smith in New York. Would you say this has something to do with marginalizing men? Would you ask – and what about Jean-Paul Sartre?

PAULINA. The mindgame you give is not a good example, because the situation is not nearly equivalent to ours, and mainly because our mindgame is taking place in a small place in the middle of nowhere, which is a direct opposite to New York. Nida has (officialy) been visited only by three intellectuals of such international importance and lasting legacy (you can’t really say that about New York). So why exclude one of them? Or, why was the mindgame not called Mann and Beauvoir? Is that even conceivable? Or are you saying Beauvoir is less important than the other two?

NILS. How do you measure importance? Sold copies? Number of Nobel Prizes? But we get a better picture now. So it’s about writers in Nida. Why not include all the writers – and all the artists? And is it Nida anyway – or Nidden? What would TM say to that – and what SdB oder JSP?

THOMAS MANN. I do not know why in this brief period of time the East has become so dear to me. Perhaps it’s an extention of my nature? Or maybe because in these hearts and minds lives a great alien myth… I find here a bridge to the realm of Slavic culture… (Kønigsberger Allgemeine Zeitung, 29 August, 1929)

NILS. Haha! Love it.