Home now from the two Berlins, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest, from the smaller cities of Ljubljana and Sarajevo in Yugoslavia, Timisoara, Cluj, and Sibiu in Romania—and from meeting a procession of novelists, poets, intellectuals of other disciplines, students, professors, and cultural commissars along the way—why am I finding the writers’ faces the hardest to remember?

I can summon at once the high-collared head man at the Institute of Literary Sciences in Budapest, saying the name of their patron “Lukács?” at me, like an alchemist testing me on a gold I mightn’t know. Or the acolyte face of the woman professor in Cluj, asking me for the names of new British novels as if asking for bread. Or the chilly smile of that university Rector: “The Fulbright professor here, also a woman. Why does your country keep sending us women?” Or the flushed young...


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