S. N. Behrman
The New Yorker
 April 21, 1945: 30-45

Like his self-avowed prototype, Casanova, and like Marcel Proust, Avraam Elia Kazan sits in a room writing down his remembrance of things past. He has already published two books, "Life of a Kazanova" and "Sixty Minutes Experience," and he has the material for several more. Kazan, who signs his works and all his letters "A. E. (Joe) Kazan" and frequently refers to himself in conversation as A. E., is a little younger than the Venetian was when he finally got around to remembering at Dux: Casanova was seventy-two; Kazan is sixty-eight. The small hotel room on West Fifty-eighth Street where, for the past few years, Kazan has sat pouring out his recollections is not corklined, like Proust's, but the intensity of his preoccupation with what he has lost is the same. Like Proust again, he has had to pay for the publication of his memoirs himself. The books he has either published or only partly completed have various titles, but, like the worldly recluse of the Boulevard Haussmann, he has really written only one work; it is an endless statement of what he has enjoyed and endured. Spiritually, of course—and he would be the first to acknowledge it—this latter-day A. E., who is of Greek descent, is much nearer the Italian than the Frenchman; his life is an astonishing span of the modern picaresque—from rags to riches, and beyond that to disillusion and moralizing. A seven-dollar-a-week messenger boy on the streets of New York at twenty, Kazan became a millionaire before he was thirty. However, the Algeric analogy will lead you astray in any summary of the career of A. E. (Joe) Kazan. Virtue was not its terminal, or idealism its motive power. You will be on firmer ground if you stick, as A. E. does, to Casanova. If he has regrets, it is because he has not always done the expedient thing. The conscience that hurts him is economic; the only guilt he feels is for not having held on to his money. Toward his lapses from strict rectitude, he is tolerant. What he cannot forgive is his poverty, for which he holds himself directly responsible. Like George Bernard Shaw, he looks upon poverty as a sin, and, in a rather ducal way, he is contrite about having committed it. His detachment about himself and his contempt for his major failure are symbolized in his invention of the name by which he is known in the circles he frequents—Flat Tire Joe. "It's a good name, don't you think?" he will inquire, without wistfulness. A. E. is never wistful. He is stern, he is sardonic, he is zestful, and he has reached old age without mellowness. This endows his personality with a kind of clean jauntiness. You can take him or leave him, but you don't have to be sorry for him.

In his appearance, Kazan sharply contradicts his self-applied pseudonym of Flat Tire Joe. He looks like a Morgan partner of the nineteen-hundreds (probably far more so than the Morgan partners ever looked) on the way to lunch on the Corsair with the head of the firm. His manner of dress is invariable and impeccable: a somewhat outmoded but impressive double-breasted black coat, very square and long, gray-striped trousers, gray spats, stiff-winged collar, and dark-blue bow tie with tiny white polka dots. His shirt front is dazzling white and stiffly starched. He carries a silver-headed cane. He wears a black bowler with an old-fashioned square crown. He is tall, square, white-faced, and bald, with snapping eyes and a somewhat bleak and rugged aspect. His usual expression is austere. It takes a lifetime of self-indulgence to produce a look so ascetic. Kazan sits in his hotel room mornings and early afternoons writing. About four, he usually walks to his favorite haunt, the Café de la Paix, at the Hotel St. Moritz, where he has a regular table. He is a striking figure on the street. If you passed him on his way to the Café de la Paix, moving slowly along, encased in his boxlike garments, tapping the sidewalk with his walking stick, his expression tense and unrevealing, his mind polishing up submerged facets of his past, you would think that he was the diplomatic representative of some strange country and that his avocation was abstract philosophy, which, indeed, it is.

Unless you have read his two published works, it is very difficult to have a sustained conversation with A. E. (Joe) Kazan. The full title of his first book is, somewhat after the ample eighteenth-century manner, "Sixty Minutes Experience: Modern Philosophy and Psychology: Joe Kazan's 50 Years' Experience." This one, which he wrote for children, is bound in bright red. The second book is called, in full, "Life of a Kazanova: I Lived, Loved, and Learned: Joe Kazan's 50 Years' Experience," and is bound in bright blue. It is necessary to be up on both these volumes. If, undocumented, you ask him about some period of his past, he will answer, with a benign testiness, "That's in the blue." Should your question he in the realm of the philosophical, the speculative, or the psychological, he will say, "That's in the red." He is like the master of some esoteric science who will not discuss it with you until you have learned at least the fundamentals. If you ask him, for example, how he got his start in America, he will simply say, "It's in the blue." Illiterates just cannot converse with A. E.

The juvenile, "Sixty Minutes Experience: Modern Philosophy and Psychology," is on sale in the philosophical section of Macy's book department. Macy's would not stock "Kazanova." Presumably the buyers were afraid of the effect of this intimate autobiography on their customers. "Sixty Minutes Experience" is prefaced, again in the eighteenth-century manner, with a prospectus which says:

Father tells his experience to young ones —they do not like it—and they do not take advantage. In later years they wish they had. This applies also to sixty minutes experience paragraphs.

This book is published by the Capano Press of New York. "Kazanova" is published by the Alexander Press of New York. On the first page of each volume is a ruled square, in which appears "Compliments of," followed by a blank line. "Sixty Minutes Experience" goes even farther than "Kazanova" in its implications of generosity. The second inside page is headed "To My Good Friend," below which is a blank line for the name. The next line, waiting, like a blank check, for a signature, has the word "Author" at the end. The modesty of this device is ingratiating; it is as if A.E. could not imagine that anyone but himself would make a present of this volume. The Capano Press offers a further convenience for the careful reader of "Sixty Minutes Experience;" the last page is ruled and is headed "INDEX FOR PARAGRAPHS YOU LIKE."

The two hooks differ in intent; "Sixty Minutes Experience" is didactic, whereas "Kazanova" is sensationally confessional. It is interesting, however, to note that the author has numbered the pages of the two books as if they were one outpouring. Thus, "Sixty Minutes," or the red, ends on Page 120, and "Kazanova" begins on Page 121. It would undoubtedly seem odd, if you innocently picked up "Kazanova" in someone's library and found yourself, at the very start, already on Page 121. Perhaps, in a shy way, Kazan is merely trying to anticipate those hard critics of even more prolific writers—of Somerset Maugham, for example—who say that no matter how much these authors turn out, they really write only one book. This is especially true of Kazan, because he is a behavioristic rather than an imaginative writer. He embosses what he knows, has seen, and has lived through; he is materialistic and factual. Although nothing could be farther from the child's world of "Sixty Minutes Experience" than the livid realism of "Kazanova," there is internal evidence that the two hooks are webbed together in the obscure caverns of Kazan's unconscious. Thus "Kazanova," while not overtly a juvenile, is a long apostrophe to a generic nephew named Bob; it is an avuncular fireside chat from a sophisticated older man to a guileless boy. Almost every admonition in the book is addressed to this imaginary Bob. And it is not unusual, when Bob asks his uncle a question, to find such a brusque answer as "Read paragraph 127 of Sixty Minutes Experience." A.E. won't talk even to Bob unless he is up on the red. It should here be noted that in the juvenile "Sixty Minutes Experience" there are no cross references to "Kazanova." Obviously, Kazan belongs to the rather old-fashioned school of pedagogy that does not believe in pushing children too far beyond their depth.

On the title and facing pages of "Sixty Minutes Experience," Kazan, following Fielding and Richardson, permits himself to revel in creative anticipation, as follows:


Following is experience
(not advice)

Underneath this introduction is a box with the legend "This Book is obtain able at: —" The promise of the colon is not fulfilled; the emptiness that follows leaves you dangling in an irritated suspense, unless you happen to find out about Macy's.

Kazan urges anyone he meets to feed "Sixty Minutes Experience" to the children. "If they cannot read," he will say, "read to them." The book is written in the manner of "Also Sprach Zarathustra," in chased aphorisms. Some of the epigrams suggest that the children for whom Kazan intended them must be not only grown but even precocious.

The aphorisms are all numbered. Aphorism 3 indicates that A.E. has at least something in common with the progressive school of educators: "Do not do anything you do not want to do. Ignore forcing."

Aphorism 85 is evidently for incipient politicians: "Question. What benefit does bribing bring in this world? Answer. Plenty. Very few persons refuse bribes if they are big enough and legal."

Aphorism 121 must be intended for children who are about to go into business: "Any proposition comes to you, say 'No' first, easy to change it to 'Yes,' not easy to change it to 'No.' This will protect you from better trader than yourself in business."

Similarly, Aphorism 25: "If you write nasty letters, mail them next day; you may change them. Mail all important letters yourself."

Kazan seldom makes the concessions usually demanded of the writers of juvenilia; he expects the tots to supplement their experience with imagination, to fill in the void of the present with the fullness of anticipation. Probably on no other basis, for example, could he counsel: "The right time to propose marriage to a lady is at a wedding. The poor lady's heart is soft and trembling."

But occasionally A.E. forgets Chesterfield and remembers Polonius, as in Aphorism 39: "Do not swear and do not use vulgar language. Your tongue will get used to it. You might call your family names."

For girl babies, A.E. has special advice: "Ladies, do not fight with your man in the morning; he cannot attend to his business and you will not have luxuries or automobiles."

Again: "Ladies and sweethearts, save your money, because for no reason your man may switch his affection to another woman with 50% less charm than yourself."

He can be hard: "Do not trust anyone until you find him otherwise; an agreeable surprise. This means you are protecting yourself."

There are echoes of Aesop: "Story: An old farmer's wife was very fond of pigeons and erected a pigeon house in back yard, and watched them every day. Neighbors asked her why she was so fond of pigeons. She said, 'I like the billing and cooing of the male pigeon and his love.'"

And echoes of La Rochefoucauld: "Definition of partner—prays his partner will become extravagant so that he can own the business himself."

And of King Lear: "Father spends thousands and lots of trouble to bring up the youngsters; when father, mother, or sister gets poor and the children get rich they do not look after father, sister, or mother; they are beasts in human clothes."

And of Cicero: "Before 50, if you just happen to be in some risky business and accumulated a fortune, quit at 50 and become 98 % honest. Otherwise, you will be caught doing wrong. It requires youth, nerve, technique to do wrong. You haven't got it after 50."

And of Montaigne: "Careless remark: Bill: 'Since when are you taking all birds to a night club?' James: 'The blonde is my wife.' Bill: 'Oh, I meant the brunette.' James: 'She is my sister.' (You have embarrassed yourself.) Diplomat says, 'I saw you with two charming ladies at the club,' as ladies are charming at any age."

And of Wilde: "What is the easiest thing in life to do? Wrong."

Sometimes one suspects—and it is true of so many books for children—that the inner message of "Sixty Minutes Experience" is intended for adults, as when the author ruminates, in Aphorism 259: "What is alibi of Philosopher? When he becomes poor, he says to himself, 'Too much money is no good anyhow!'"

Perhaps the most poignant moment in the hook is the author's final paragraph, in which he reflects on the advantages contemporary children have that he lacked as a child. This is his envoi to his wandering in the child's world: "THE AUTHOR SAYS: I wish this book had been printed 50 years ago so that I might have read it and gotten the benefit."

The blue, or "Life of a Kazanova: I Lived, Loved, and Learned: Joe Kazan's 50 Years' Experience," most of which is written in numbered episodes, is surely one of the frankest self-exposures in the long history of confessional literature. In Kazan's millionaire period, he maintained apartments in New York and in Paris and sported Rolls-Royces and Isotta-Fraschinis on two continents. Essentially (like so many bachelors) a homebody, he had sweethearts in various capitals so that while he was travelling he could enjoy the illusion the Staler hotels have always striven to achieve of a "home away from home." He also helped to make himself feel at home by taking with him, wherever he went, his most prized possession, a custom-built brown velvet sofa, on which he slept. He has clung to this sofa; it is all that is left of his former opulence. It stands now in his hotel room. A vanished and fascinating world is opened for you in "Kazanova," a world of uninhibited enterprise, of mighty fortunes made in selling rugs, of sixty-four thousand dollars staked on one hand in chemin de fer, of flying trips between Constantinople and New York, of international business amalgamations, of sybaritism in New York, Paris, Madrid, Vienna, Budapest, and Cairo.

Under the statement "This Book Is a Lesson for Adults," A.E. begins his autobiography with his birth:

Bob, I was born in the city of Cesaria in Turkey in Asia Minor. There were three of us children. My mother passed away when I was six years old. I don't remember anything about her except that when I approached to her for a kiss (she was sick in bed) they pulled me away from her.

What effect this earliest remembered trauma has had on the career of A.E. it will remain for the psychologists to expound. There is certainly no indication in "Kazanova" that it made an introvert of him. Of the childhood incidents he relates, the following is perhaps the matrix of what was to come:

Bob, at the age of nine when I was going to school, the best my family could do was to give me Turkish bologna sandwiches for my lunch almost every day. Then I became a racketeer, at the age of nine. (Compulsory.) A rich parents' son (sissy) at school. His lunch contained cheese, chicken sandwiches, cake, candy. One day I asked him to give me some of his lunch. He said no. The next day at noon I said to the rich boy, 'Let us go on the roof and have our lunch in the sun.' (Only the two of us were alone on the roof.) I grabbed his lunch box and ate half of his lunch, and I gave him half of my bologna. I also gave him a couple of slaps. I told him: 'If you don't get me extra lunch every day you will be licked by me.' The sissy obeyed me from fear. I had a delicious luncheon every day for a year. He told his mother he got awfully hungry at 3 o'clock and wanted more lunch. Years after, returning to Constantinople from America (having money) I met a young man at the Tokatlian restaurant. From his name I recognized him as the boy whose lunch I robbed every day at school. For days and days I treated him, dining him, champagne, girls, etc.—never allowing him to spend money. He never guessed who I was.

The free-lunch racket waned (perhaps the sissy became virile), but A.E. supplanted it with another. The boys in Cesaria used to play a game called ashik, with marbles that were made out of the little bones in the knee joints of lambs. The young Kazan put lead in one of these marbles, and with this he could, at a distance of ten feet, easily break through a row of normal ones. For a season he had a steady income of what came to two American cents a week. But he was too consistent a winner, the device was discovered, and, at the age of ten, he was expelled from school. A.E. has never fought the temptation to gamble, no matter how much it has cost him; he feels that the instinct is both congenital and insurmountable. He does not believe, he says, in fighting nature.

The young Kazan went to work, at the age of eleven, as a messenger boy, carrying rugs around from one establishment to another, but, after four years of it, Kazan, Sr., felt that the boy was too smart for Cesaria and sent him off to Constantinople, a four-day journey by carriage, to live with an uncle and aunt and their children. There A.E. got a job in a drugstore, at eighty cents a week. He noticed that apparently no matter what the ailment, the doctors prescribed the same medicines, so he took to filling prescriptions himself, with an admirable uniformity. But the atmosphere in his uncle's house was unfriendly. The family slept together in one room, on wool beds—layers of matted wool piled one on top of another. A.E. had brought a wool bed with him from Cesaria, a parting gift from his father. Gradually he became aware of a diminishing altitude in his bed; he slept lower and lower, and finally he reached the floor. He could only conclude that the layers had been removed one at a time by his relatives while he was at work—whether for mere gain or as a delicate hint that he was unwelcome, he was not sure. In any case, he took to sleeping in the drugstore. Avraam had grown up in the rug business, and he soon felt the call to return to it. It was in his bones. "I know the business so well," he says, "that rugs are afraid of me." He got a tryout for a job with a leading rug merchant in Constantinople, spreading out the rugs and helping to show them, at a dollar a week. On his first day, he saw a coin on the floor—a coin worth a quarter. He picked it up and gave it to the boss. This evidence of honesty clinched the job for him. He had been forewarned that this dropped coin was a stratagem of the boss's, and he survived this first test of his probity.

A.E. calls the years from 1887 to 1897, when he left Turkey for America, his "chiselling days." It was while working in the rug establishment in Constantinople that there came to the Avraam the first impulse to go to America. Tersely he describes, in "Kazanova," this turning point in his young life:

Bob, one day a friend of my father's got me a job in a rug store in Constantinople (my father's trade) at a dollar a week. I slept in his warehouse. Every Saturday, lots of Armenian merchants visited his office to talk over business and gossip about America with my boss. I used to listen. They would say: This man became a millionaire in America. This man bought a chateau. This one is wealthy. I said to myself: me for America. I went to my rich uncle to get some money to go to America. (No dice.) What next? My boss was paying loads of money to have his rugs repaired. What could I do? I learned how to repair rugs and I worked at night for three years to save enough money to come to America.

Kazan was twenty when at last he sailed, by freighter. The journey from Constantinople to Marseille took nine days. He was quartered on the steerage deck, but as it was summer, this was no great hardship. His capital was forty-two dollars and several silk rugs he was to deliver to a brother of his Constantinople boss who was in the rug business in New York. The blandishments of Marseille were too much for the young adventurer. He left the freighter, squandered his capital, and then sold one of the silk rugs for forty-five dollars. When at last he got on a ship for America, he had five dollars left. He gambled four-ninety-five of this away. From a fellow-passenger, a lady, he borrowed a quarter to wire his boss's brother from Ellis Island. For two days he slept on benches there until the boss's brother appeared and rescued him.

Kazan considers the time between 1897 and 1904 the happiest of his life, because it was the only period of his business career when he had no overhead. His faculty for cleaning, repairing, showing, and selling rugs stood him in good stead. He went to work for his boss's brother in his establishment at Broadway and Seventeenth Street, and he earned extra money repairing rugs at night. He lived in a boarding house near Wanamaker's and got himself a girl. This girl the boss coveted. The boss seems to have been something of a Biblical student, for he sent A.E. on the road to sell so that he could woo the girl with an easier conscience. With A.E., he sent along another young member of his staff, who had been stealing from him. The boss told A.E. that he was sending him, A.E., along to watch the other fellow, but the maneuver was transparent to A.E. However, not counting the world lost for love, A.E. consented to go on tour. The two young men left for New England with their merchandise. Their procedure, after they arrived in a town, was to go to a music shop, say, or a hardware store, and get the proprietor to let them set up a temporary rug department in return for a ten-per-cent commission on sales. The tour was a triumph. In the communities A.E. and his companion visited there appeared to be a hunger for rugs which they had arrived in the nick of time to satisfy.

The first thing A.E. did after he sold a rug to a lady for a thousand dollars in Concord, New Hampshire, was to send a money order for fifty dollars to his father in Turkey. The sensation caused by its arrival was recounted to him years later, when he returned to Cesaria a rich man. A.E.'s father looked at the money order with skepticism, and he was assured by his neighbors that he could not get cash for it at the post office. At the post office he asked for the money in small silver coins, then brought it home and poured it on the kitchen table. The neighbors crowded in to look. The elder Kazan pointed with pride. "Didn't I tell you my son is a genius?" he said. "Look, we are rich!"

Women were as helpful in furthering A.E.'s career during the New England tour as they were later, with the assistance of overhead, in helping to undo him. In Bridgeport, an elderly lady came in and examined rugs for two hours. A.E.'s patience long outlasted that of his partner, who was always irritated by interminable shoppers. Finally the lady bought a rug for thirty-five dollars. She asked A.E. to deliver it to her house. The partner sneered, but A.E. stuck to business. He delivered the rug at dinnertime and was invited to dine. "After dinner," he recalls, "as I sat on my hostess's lap, she got on the telephone and began making calls all over Bridgeport." She sold fourteen thousand dollars' worth of rugs for him to her friends. "American women of that era," says A.E., "were very sympathetic if you came from Constantinople and were poor." From this one contact, A.E. got a fine dinner and three thousand dollars in commissions. He promptly returned to New York and quit his job. He approached a Fifth Avenue dealer with a proposal that they sell rugs at auction, so that they could influence the prices by bidding against each other when necessary. The merger was a great success. A.E. recalls vividly a pair of silk rugs of a crème-de-menthe color (he dwells lovingly on these two rugs, after a lapse of nearly half a century) which were bid up to seven hundred and fifty dollars, though they had cost him and his partner only sixty-two dollars. Those were wonderful years: America was a new and hospitable and rug-hungry land; there was youth and a growing intimation of genius in finance; there were women of all ages, sympathetic to a good-looking boy from Constantinople; and, above all, there was no overhead.

A.E. was soon averaging five hundred dollars a week, but he continued to live in the boarding house near Wanamaker's. Boarding houses, he says, were a symbol of respectability. It helped establish credit to live in a boarding house; it was an index of honesty and industry. During the panic of 1907, A.E. was occupying a large room for which he had paid a year's rent in advance. When Wanamaker's began discharging salesgirls, many of them came to A.E. for help, and he helped. One of the more idyllic of his memories is of this period. The girls used to come to his room in the evening and talk and sing to him while he repaired his rugs. He tolerated no indiscretion; it did not go with the boarding-house facade; he was a Platonic pasha.

A. E.'s career, from this point, followed swiftly the pattern set by many immigrants of those days. He was in a world in which you outsmarted everyone you could, in which you vowed revenge when you were outsmarted, even though you could not help having a certain admiration for the outsmarter. One example, taken from "Kazanova," will serve as an illustration of this phase of his life:

Bob: At the age of 23, a poor boy, I sold at auction to a lady one silk carpet for $1,700 costing me $550. This was a profit of $1,150. An artificial gentleman dealer saw this lady and spoiled the sale of the silk carpet, and the lady returned it. This was a big loss for a poor man. I registered this evil act of the so-called gentleman in my mind. Fifteen years later I was sitting in a fashionable cafe. This same dealer came in and sat with me at a table. I bought him a drink. He bought me three drinks and then he went out and bought me a cigar which cost fifteen cents and one for himself which cost sixty cents. Now what is the catch? He asked me to lend him $25,000. "Yes, if you send all your rugs (worth about $120,000) to my store I will lend you the $25,000 and charge you $12,000 commission whether all the rugs are sold or not." I started working on the proposition and in a month I sold $37,000 worth and thereby collected my $25,000 and $12,000 commission. I sent the dealer back the balance of the rugs. He cost me $1,150 fifteen years ago but I got back from him $12,000 in one month. Bob, here is the benefit of not calling a fool a damn fool to his face. Bob, if you are willing to give a cigar to another friend, give same cigar that you smoke, not a fifteen cent cigar to him and a sixty cent one for you.

There began the period of A.E.'s life that he describes in "Kazanova" as "Genius in Business and Technique." In this period he acquired more partners and he acquired overhead. His success was great, and he began to make quantities of money. His years of wealth, characterized by him in a subtitle as "High Living Days: Genius and Amoeba," lasted until the liquidation of his fortune of several million dollars in the crash of 1929. The first big step toward success came when Orlando Jones, a bookmaker, introduced him to another bookmaker, who wanted to buy some rugs. A.E. took the prospect to the largest rug dealer in New York. One of the salesmen there offered A.E. a thousand-dollar commission on the transaction, which came to five thousand dollars, but A.E., remembering the dropped coin in Constantinople, refused, and asked only the customary ten per cent. The news of this startling heresy reached the boss, who, overcome by A.E.'s spectacular honesty, gave him a job at four thousand dollars a year, plus commissions. After four years of this, during which, A.E. recalls, the boss "liked him every day," he was given an account of three hundred thousand dollars and sent to Constantinople on a buying trip. He bought too freely and when the home office heard about it he was discharged by cable. He promptly formed a partnership in Constantinople with a local banker named Castelli. In the next few years A.E. was involved, first in Constantinople and then back in New York, in a series of dissolving partnerships. One of them had an almost immediate but charming dénouements. A jovial partner, whom A.E. greatly liked, was caught cheating after one week. A.E. reproached him. "I have been a crook for forty years," said the candid culprit. "You can't expect me to be honest in one week." In spite of the sweet reasonableness of this argument, A.E. dissolved the partnership.

From this period, too, comes an interesting account of the pastime of "rug-walking," taken from "Kazanova":

Uncle, they tell me you used to chase customers from your store. Is this true?

Answer: Yes but only those rich customers who were egotists or better traders than myself . . . . For one of my best customers and friends I spread a large rug on the floor and he asked me what is the price. I said $800. He says, "I'll take it." (Being a bargain for him.) We were walking on the rug and I spoke to him in jokes—stories to keep him walking to the good end of the rug but he walked to the opposite end of the rug and then he said, "No, I do not want it." I asked him what's the matter with the rug. He said, "The rug is worn out." "How do you know?" I said. ''You haven't touched it." He said, "I felt with my feet that it is worn out." I said, "Here's a cigarbut we won't do business with anyone who knows that a rug is worn out by touching it with his feet." But we wined and dined many times after that.

In 1912, A.E. felt himself strong enough to do without partnerships and founded his own firm, the Kazan Carpet Company. The firm had a rating of AAA in Dun & Bradstreet's, and he had so much money that it was not necessary for him to be respectable. The boarding-house era was over. He moved into progressively finer apartment houses and eventually took an apartment at the Ritz Tower and had it furnished at a cost of seventy-five thousand dollars. The "High Living Days" period swung into its halcyon rhythm. It was then that he had his sofa made, and when he went to Paris he took it with him. (Can it be possible that this is the first record of a man taking a bed to Paris?) One evening there, he went to dine at the home of a count who was also fond of good living. On the third floor of the count's mansion was a bathroom which aroused A.E.'s envy; it had walls of exquisite mosaic and a bathtub big enough for two. A.E. couldn't get the magnificence of this bathroom out of his mind. He was like an art lover who has looked at a tantalizing picture and cannot rest until it hangs on his own wall. The next day he called the manager of Claridge's, where he was stopping, and had him, with the count's permission, visit the bathroom. A copy of it was installed in his suite at Claridge's. He kept this apartment, as well as the one in New York, all through the High Living Days.

A typical high-living day is described in Episodes 621 and 622:

In the morning my customary coffee served in my room. Masseur, osteopath or Turkish bath, alternately; besides my own gymnasium in my apartment. Every morning the barber comes at the same hour to shave me. Even if it is only to talk, the manicurist comes now and then. No worry for expenses (keep the change). A tailor comes once a month with samples and I buy a suit of clothes or an overcoat whether I need it or not.

Good organization at the store. Customers buying my rugs at any price, as I am almost a monopoly. I look at the newspapers—stocks go up. At one o'clock before I go to lunch I stop in at the stockbroker and buy 1000 shares of some stock on which I already have a tip. (To be sold at 1% point profit if it goes up. This profit will pay for my luxurious expenses.) And they go up. Arrive at 61st Street restaurant. Plenty of beautiful girls. Of course I am welcome to these girls because some of checks go on my account (and their sweeties are working at the time) I go with some of the girls back to the apartment, either to play bridge or dance or drink (Prohibition). Some of them jump on my electric horse and camel. Bob, I was very generous with my girls. If they went out dining and wining with a nicer looking man than myself, I forgave them. Otherwise, elimination.

This life of easy gymnastics occasionally has a more astringent note. As in Episode 638, on "The Influence of Heredity":

Bob, here's an example of how a person can inherit certain habits from his parents. When I was in Constantinople, I used to visit my father every Monday in the suburbs where he lived. In his bathroom I saw a cake of soap which had been made from little scraps of left-over soap. That was economy! And I, the damned fool, had lost $5,000 the night before playing poker. Did I learn anything? We shall see. In New York, I lived at a Tower Hotel. I was wealthy and lived very expensively. Yet I also had a cake of soap made from little scraps of left-over soap. Even today I do the same thing. These are the little things that you inherit from your parents. And here's how it benefited me. A girl once came to ask me for $125 for a Chinese dog that she wanted to buy. When she happened to go into the bathroom and saw my cake of soap which had been made from little scraps of left-over soap—she left the room without carfare.

It is doubtful whether any man has ever been franker than A.E. in disclosing his failures with women. He seldom recalls an amorous episode that did not have some economic aspect. This is very hard to understand, because A.E. is a handsome, imposing man even today. Possibly, if he had remained poor, women would have been touched by his need for love, as they were in his non-overhead days, but it is hard to be sorry for a very rich man. If there is one idyl in the life of A.E., it is his nostalgic worship of the lady whose identity is veiled in his lavish numerology as Sweetheart No. 5. (He is inclined to say less about Nos. 1 through 4.) He loved and wanted to marry this girl and yet, even in this case, his nostalgia is soured a bit by the fact that, although he spent a fortune on her and wanted to send her to school and to educate her, she left him, when he began to lose his money, to marry a man who had had the good sense to remain a millionaire. He still thinks with tenderness of Sweetheart No. 5 and writes to her now and then, but she does not answer his letters.

Some of Kazan's innumerable transatlantic crossings during the high-living days were dictated by romance. Sensitive to the merest inflection of infidelity, he once quickly abandoned a Paris sweetheart because, in an absent-minded moment, she called him by the wrong name. To salve his wounded amour-propre, he sailed at once for New York, only to have his New York sweetheart make a similar unfortunate slip of the tongue. One incident in "Kazanova" is reminiscent of a painful episode in "Of Human Bondage"—when Philip gives his friend the money to go away with Mildred—and is none the less poignant for being told so pitilessly:

I made arrangements with a new manager to take care of my business as I was sailing for Europe on the Majestic. When I arrived on the ship I received from a real friend the following telegram (4 words): "You are a donkey—Bill." But after I got on the boat I changed my mind—I wanted to get off—but the first whistle for leaving had blown. The second steward, who knew me well, said, "The only way you can get out of here is to get sick"—and I got sick plenty. They had to lower the plank and I got off. This cost me $100. Now what was my idea? First, I was not doing justice to my business. Second, I wanted to go and watch my exclusive sweetheart, for her I bought a small house in the suburbs, and to see if she was in love with someone else. On two occasions I went around her house but did not have the courage to go in and see for myself if . . . I never justified my suspicions because I never found out. Damn fool—but this is love.

Kazan attributes his failure in business and his present impecuniosity to his gambling and extravagance and what might be called the "flat tire" quality in his character, but not for a moment does he regret his romantic expenditures, financial and emotional. He indulges in no sentimental what-might-have-beens even about the practical Sweetheart No. 5. And toward all women he still retains an attitude of incorrigible gallantry. If his life has been an unending immolation on the altar of Eros, he feels no remorse. In this sense he is a true Casanova, the perennial Don Juan, a perfectionist in amour. It is perhaps A.E.'s most striking and ingratiating quality that he is detached and unregenerate. He looks upon his own failings, as he does upon honor in others, with equanimity, as eccentricities of character to be observed and catalogued and appraised for their instructive value. He is constantly contrasting his brother, who is the father of Elia Kazan, the stage and screen director, with himself. This brother has been successful in the rug business, but not so spectacularly as A.E. He is respected in his business circle in New York and in New Rochelle, where he and his family live. In "Kazanova," A.E. refers to him as "my noble brother." He applies this epithet not with irony but with real reverence. "He is a good man," A.E. will say. "Never did anything dishonorable. A good man, a thousand times better than I." But he says it in a tone of casual inventory, as if he were estimating the value of a rug or a diamond. He does not envy virtue. For the good brother's son, his nephew Elia, he has an admiring affection. He repeats with relish conversational tilts he has had with Elia.

"Once," he says, "I asked him for five hundred dollars."

"You are always telling me," Elia answered, "to save my money. How can I give you five hundred dollars and still save my money?"

"Because," A.E. said, "when you give you get back more."

A.E. won the argument and the five hundred dollars.

His nephew's increasing fame and success have not been an unmixed blessing for A.E. "Formerly, friends sometimes helped me," he says. "Now they say, 'Why should we help you? You have a millionaire nephew. Why don't you go to him?'" (In A.E.'s circle you can't be merely affluent; you are a millionaire or nothing.) There is a story that Oscar Wilde, when he was living in poverty in Paris, wrote the synopsis of a play called "Mrs. Daventry" and one day sold it to a producer, promising to write the play. He didn't write it, but he kept the advance. He repeated the process several times with other impresarios, always using the same synopsis. Finally, one of these men got someone else to write the play around Wilde's synopsis and put it into rehearsal. When Wilde heard of the impending production, he wrote an indignant letter to this producer. "By producing this play," he said, "you rob me of a certain source of income "A.E. feels somewhat this way about his nephew's success.

The small hotel room on West Fifty-eighth Street in which A.E. has lived for nine years seems even smaller than it is because most of it is occupied by the much-travelled sofa. The sofa is the worse for wear, and its generous proportions make living in the room somewhat of a maneuver. Pressed against it on one side is a bridge table, on which A.E. does his writing. The table is covered with manuscripts. Next to the sofa, on the other side, is a huge wardrobe trunk plastered with labels: "Berengaria 1926;" "Paris 1927 to Hold on Arrival." Into the trunk, A.E. recalls, he once threw fifteen hundred dollars after an alcoholic card game and didn't discover it till five years later, when he was rummaging for a collar button. The sofa, bridge table, and trunk form a small triangle. In this little triangle, most of A.E.'s existence is now confined.

Kazan's sofa was made to order by the Tiffany Studios in 1921. "I paid seven hundred and fifty dollars for it, but now I couldn't get ten dollars," he says, not ruefully but as a comment on worldly mutation. No other man has ever been so faithful to an article of furniture. Even when he lived in his apartment at the Ritz Tower, which had a magnificent bed, he slept on the sofa. Whenever he was ready to go to Paris, he would simply order his chauffeur to ship the sofa ahead. When he arrived in his apartment at Claridge's, it would be there. Now it is his workbench as well as his bed. He lies on it, collecting his thoughts, and when he is ready to set them down, there is the bridge table. The sofa, A.E. says, is his pal. It is a relationship analagous to the one between Elwood P. Dowd and Harvey.

A.E.'s degeneration into a writer took place in this way. In 1941, yielding to one of his rare bouts with apathy, he didn't go out of his room for three days. On the fourth day, the maid who does his room prodded him. "You haven't been outside for three days," she said. "What's the matter with you? You must be a writer!" The writing germ, a non-filterable virus, entered A.E. at that moment. By the end of a week, A.E., now dedicated, was at work on his first manuscript. His new avocation, he feels, has lifted him above the ordinary, material plane on which he had always lived. On the floor of his room are three worn rugs; he estimates their total value at ninety cents. On Christmas Day of 1944, A.E. was alone in his room with his work. He looked down at the rugs and found himself remembering that once he had had in his store two thousand rugs, each worth between five hundred and two thousand dollars. He laughed. He went out to the Automat for his Christmas dinner, and while sitting there, drinking a glass of milk, he laughed again. It is his conversion to art, A.E. feels, that gave him the power to laugh on that Christmas Day.

A.E. takes a certain pride in the magnitude of his downfall. In 1929, he went bankrupt for a million dollars, and he still carries, and likes to display, a newspaper clipping recording this handsome debacle. Since 1929, he has done no formal work. He is an authority on the late sport of horse racing. He had elaborate formulas for betting, the most incomprehensible of which he called the "unit system." Once he evolved an intricate scheme for a betting pool with a capital of a million dollars. He perfected the plan with patient lucubration and then offered it as a sort of gesture to the Greek community in New York. It was turned down. He was rather hurt by this, because he was prepared, he says, to devote all his time to it. For a while, after the crash, he lived in the Hotel St. Moritz, and he still goes there almost every afternoon and sits on a yellow-leather chair at his regular table in the Café de la Paix. He loves the Café de la Paix. The proprietor of the hotel, a Greek by the name of Taylor, is an old friend. The waiters and clientele also know him. When he tips the waiters, they good-humoredly refuse the tips. They don't want to be tipped by their friend, they say. When A.E. arrives at the Café de la Paix, he sits down at his Stammtisch in one corner. He talks to his regular waiter in French. He has known this waiter for thirty years, since the days of the old Café Martin. They inevitably recall the night Stanford White was shot there. They were at the Café Martin when it happened. A.E. puts on a pair of horn-rimmed glasses, takes some long sheets of yellow foolscap from his pocket, and asks the waiter to read to him from his work in progress, "My Life at the Café Martin." "The proprietor, Martin, was like my brother," says A.E. "What a man I was!"

Back in his room, A.E. puts in an hour before dinner at his writing. The pockets of his double-breasted black overcoat and of his jackets are stuffed with foolscap covered with writing—newly remembered stories of his past, amplifications of stories he has already told. Afflicted with graphomania, he keeps adding and adding to his reminiscences and speculations. If you visit him in his room, he insists upon your reading his works aloud to him. He will reach into a pocket and pull out a sheet of paper. "Read this," he will say, in the voice of one long accustomed to obedience. "Aloud!" When you start reading, A.E. tilts his head back and a little to one side. A faint smile curves his lips and the expression on his distinguished, strongly modelled face softens to benignity. As the sentences set in motion the stream of memory—of opulence, of power, of defeat, of voluptuousness—the benign look deepens, and it is plain that the voices he hears are mellifluous. At last the passage is finished. There is a silence. The sun lights up a column of motes rising from A.E.'s sofa to the window. He gets up and adjusts his boxlike jacket against the back of his collar. "Damn fool," he mutters. "Damn fool."

"What would you still like to accomplish in life?" his visitor asks, to snap him from his past to the future.

"You will find the answer," he says brusquely, "in the blue—797A."

It is there, on the last page, just before the addendum, which is a little manual on horse racing. It reads:

Bob asked his uncle: "Why did you start writing this book?"

Answer: "It is a good hobby, if you are lonesome, and an education. You will become a better person reading your own memoirs and experiences, and I am tired of stretching a dollar as far as it will go. I am also trying hard to make this book more successful so I will be able to reciprocate favors which I receive from my family and my friends, and will be able to establish a small orphanage and live with the children and see them happy. When they come and jump on my lap and kiss me, that is the only genuine kiss in the world with no hidden personal interest, except, of course, mothers'."

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