Extract from Michael Mitchell's translation

Helmut Krausser's Eros

The Evening Before

Without knowing much about him, apart from the few things you could read here and there, and without ever having seen him, apart from yellowing photographs, I found him repulsive. Still I went when he called. Which of my colleagues would not have responded to his call? Every one of them, without exception, would have gone to satisfy their curiosity.

On the train taking me there I was a man whose life was in ruins going, for some unknown purpose, to visit a man of fabulous wealth.

Don't waste time with petty questions, just come, he had written, you will not regret it and that's a promise.

There was arrogance and magic in the way he put it. I was horrified at the fascination his seemingly bigmouthed promise exerted on me. I vowed I would not let myself be bought, not at any price — and at the same time I knew full well that anyone who made such a vow not only sensed the danger ahead, but was rushing towards it. To play with the temptation a little, yes, that's what you have in mind. To look for, to consider an offer, no matter what kind, if only to give your vanity, your need for recognition a boost, surely there's no harm in that, you tell yourself. But to tell yourself you will then remain steadfast, afterwards, that comes close to self-deception. I wrote these thoughts down in my notebook while gray, swirling snow obscured the compartment windows.