Dilema Menjadi Penulis Muda & Tua
Eduard Saxberger pulang daripada berjalan kaki dan menemui seorang penulis muda menunggu di rumahnya. Anak muda ini bernama Wolfgang Meier, dan dia telah datang untuk menemui penyair agung Saxberger, pengarang kepada buku puisi berjudul Wanderings. Meier memuji kehebatannya dan bagaimana buku itu kini dibaca oleh golongan pujangga muda Vienna. Saxberger sudah lebih daripada tiga puluh tahun berhenti menulis, malah dia tidak sangka ada orang masih membaca bukunya. Keesokkan hari, Saxberger menerima melalui kiriman pos manuskrip puisi si Meier ini. Dia duduk di meja dan cuba membaca, namun fikiran Saxberger melayang ke dalam dirinya:
"One thing seemed beyond question: they were pretty verses - but when he asked himself what more he might say about them, he found himself at a loss. He came to a poem that tried to portray a landscape. (And a here felt he was seeing more deeply into the work.) It had a stronger effect on him that the earlier ones, which had sung the praises of beautiful girls. Something in him resonate with it. He loved nature. And the older he had become, the greater the love for it had grown. He had discovered new ties to by which he had not previously been connected. Oh, it was true - love, youth - that was all in the past. What did the high spirits and the triumphs of youth have to do with him these days? How many years had it been since he'd been interested in those things, since he'd even noticed anything of them? He stood alone in the world. Had never been married, never had children - all connection to youth had been lost as he slowly grew older. All his social intercourse was with friends - who grew old as he did."
Apabila seorang pengarang melihat kembali karya lamanya, ia seperti membaca nama pada batu nisan. Diri dan memori ketika ia ditulis sudah lama ditanam. Saxberger kemudian membuka semula naskhah Wanderings yang masih ada dalam simpannya:
"The edges were yellow, the type seemed old-fashioned. He began to read. The first verse were unfamiliar. But as he read only a little further on, his memory stirred to life. It was as if some familiar music were coming closer and closer. And soon not so much as word was unknown to him. He began to declaim under his breath and nodded along the way you do when listening to something you already know."
Keberadaan kita sebagai manusia sangat dipengaruhi oleh mood persekitaran. Apabila kita bersama ahli keluarga, kita berasa tenang, apabila kita pergi interviu kerja kita jadi gelisah, dan apabila kita menonton perlawanan bola sepak di stadium kita jadi teruja. Sama juga dengan penulis, apabila mereka duduk dan berbual bersama rakan penulis, mereka rasa ingin menulis. Terutama sekali bagi golongan penulis baharu seperti Meier. Fikiran yang penuh idealisme dan dada yang panas dengan semangat pembaharuan. Tetapi apa akan berlaku apabila api itu sudah terpadam? Apa akan berlaku apabila penulis muda itu tidak lagi menulis selepas sepuluh atau dua puluh tahun? Dia akan lupa persona tersebut dan meneruskan hidup seperti orang lain. Seperti mana Saxberger melaluinya:
"Never had he felt so deeply that he was an old man, that not only the hopes, but also the disappointments lay far behind him. A dull hurt rose up in him. He put the book aside, he could not read on. He had the feeling that he had long since forgotten about himself."
Novel Arthur Schnitzler Late Fame menangkap dilema menjadi penulis tua dan muda ini dengan sangat cemerlang. Semuanya dilakukan di bawah 100 halaman dan Schnitzler setia kepada naratif utama tanpa membuat sebarang penyimpangan.