'Man is man's wolf'

  • June 6, 2010
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1990 - Edith (wearing corsage) reunites with elementary school classmates,
52 years after she last saw them.

One of my mother's German classmates from elementary school
just finished reading Is It Night or Day?. He sent my mother
his reaction to the book in this email. My good friend Frank Nordt
translated the letter from German to English below. 

Liebe Edith,

Fern`s Buch habe ich nun zweimal gelesen und es stets bedrückt,
traurig und betroffen aus der Hand gelegt.
Immer wieder ist mir Sigmund Freuds (??) Wort in den Sinn gekommen:
"Der Mensch ist des Menschen Wolf."
Goethe hat es behutsamer gesagt:

   Alles geben die Götter, die unendlichen,
   Ihren Lieblingen ganz:
   Alle Freuden, die unendlichen,
   Alle Schmerzen, die unendlichen, ganz.

Die Zeit, Schweres zu ertragen und zu vergessen, ist zuweilen
dereinzige Trost und Helfer.

Dear Edith,

I’ve now read Fern’s new book twice and I always put it down feeling sad, depressed, and dejected. Freud’s words ??? (actually, Thomas Hobbes’ words) always come to my thoughts: “Man is Man’s Wolf.” (The meaning of the phrase is “Man is a wolf to his fellow man.”) Goethe said it in a more gentle fashion:

The gods give everything, the infinite ones,
To their beloved, completely,
Every pleasure, the infinite ones,
Every suffering, the infinite ones, completely.

The pain of that time is heavy to bear. To forget is sometimes the only relief.

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