Misunderstandings…


They happen to all of us.  Here’s a funny one that involves Walter Benjamin.  Grete Radt, Benjamin’s fiance circa 1914, told Gershom Scholem fifty years later that the engagement was based on a misunderstanding. Here’s Scholem in his compulsively readable (and I’ve read it before) Walter Benjamin: The Story of a Friendship:

She had been close to Benjamin since 1913, and in July 1914 she spent some time with him in the Bavarian Alps.  Toward the end of that month his father sent him a telegram with the terse warning “sapienti sat” (A word to the wise), presumably to induce him to leave the country for some neutral terriroty such as Switzerland.  But Benjamin misinterpreted the message and replied by formally announcing that he was engaged to Grete Radt (18).

This makes me chuckle.  They didn’t end up getting married, by the way.

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