"While we were drinking tea," Bellow recalled, "he asked me if any of my books had been translated into Hebrew. If they had not been, I had better see to it immediately, because, he said, they would survive only in the Holy Tongue. His advice I assumed was only half serious. This was his witty way of calling my attention to a curious situation. I cited Heinrich Heine as an example of a poet who has done rather well in German. 'Ah,' said Mr. Agnon, 'we have him beautifully translated into Hebrew. He is safe...'"
"He is safe," Stavans remarked. "What a wonderful dictum! Hebrew is truly a language for the ages, a vertical tongue. What is remarkable about the anecdote, though, is that we all remember it in English!"
["I personally long for the eternity of Hebrew, and feel nostalgia for Yiddish," he explained, "but it's in English that I feel the human connection."]