My Father

The data formed in me, during my childhood, thanks to the strong impressions I received during this discussion on an abstract theme between these persons who had lived their lives to old age relatively normally, led to a beneficent result for the formation of my individuality which I first became aware of only much later, namely, just before the general European war; and from then on it began to serve for me as the above-mentioned spiritualizing factor.

The initial shock for my mental and feeling associations, which brought about this awareness, was the following:

One day I read in a certain magazine an article in which it was said that there had been found among the ruins of Babylon some tablets with inscriptions which scholars were certain were no less than four thousand years old. This magazine also printed the inscriptions and the deciphered text—it was the legend of the hero Gilgamesh.

When I realized that here was that same legend which I had so often heard as a child from my father, and particularly when I read in this the twenty-first song of the legend in almost the same form of exposition as in the songs and tales of my father, I experienced such an inner excitement that was as if my whole future destiny depended on all this. And I was struck by the fact, at first inexplicable to me, that this legend had been handed down by ashokhs from generation to generation for thousands of years, and yet had reached our day almost unchanged.

After this occurrence, when the beneficent result of the impressions formed in my childhood from the narratives of my father finally became clear to me—a result that crystallized in me spiritualizing factor enabling to comprehend that which usually appears incomprehensible—I often regretted having begun too late to give the legends of antiquity the immense significance that I now understand they really have.

36