One afternoon, when I had finished a lecture on E. M. Forster at a university in the Southwest, a coed paused by my desk to ask, in all stammering earnestness, what I had meant by the inner l-life and the s-s-self. Coming from a senior, and an English major to boot, the query reminded me that the first law of teaching in this country is to take nothing for granted. I was led to consider the easy way one can go on about the Self and the Individual and Integrity from the somewhat creaky security of one’s swivel chair. And I recalled the cautions of friends back East as I prepared to embark on this, my first teaching job: “They lack a certain dimension in personality down there. They’re all boarded up. You’ll find out.” What I was to find out about my particular interlocutor was that in fact she came from New Jersey.
And lo! the other day as I referred in passing, though not so unwittingly, to Hamlet’s Weltschmerz (in a Shakespeare co...
For just $19.95 a year, get access to new issues and decades' worth of archives on our site.
Print + Online
For $35 a year, get new issues delivered to your door and access to our full online archives.