Friday, May 26, 2006

Trilling – Barzun (1932)

As far as I know, the first time Lionel Trilling and Jacques Barzun appeared in the same New York Times article was in 1932, when they are listed among the signers protesting government mistreatment of striking coal miners in Kentucky. Mr. Trilling was the lone signer affliliated with Hunter College, while Mr. Barzun’s name is misspelled “J. M. Barsun” under Columbia College. New York Times, March 3, 1932


There were several New York Times notices of the Zuleika, the Columbia Varsity Show of 1928. This article seems the longest:


Varsity Show Given at Waldorf
Depicts in Operetta Form Revolt
of Turkish Women.

The Columbia Varsity Show, presented for the first time last night at the Waldorf, was received enthusiastically by a large audience. The book of the operetta in two acts entitled “Zuleika,” was written by Jacques Martin Barzun and the music was composed by Donald K. Phillips. Both are students.

Most of the enjoyment of the audience could be traced to the humor of the lines. The dancing of the pony ballet received much applause. The principal parts were played by Henry A. Grant as Zuleika, Phillips as Peter, an attaché of the American legation in Turkey where the play is set, Malcolm McComb as the Grand Vizir, and George Fanning as the Sultana.

The story concerns the love of Peter for Zuleika, which is temporarily broken up by a revolt of the women of Turkey, who cast the leaders of the ruling pary in jail and proceed to run the Empire to suit themselves. Their plans are frustrated, however, and the finale sees Zuleika and Peter reunited.

The lines and music are in the manner of Gilbert and Sullivan, the whole operetta purporting to be a rehearsal of a play by that famous pair, who are portrayed by Edward Mammen and Harold S. Neuberger.

New York Times, March 7, 1928


“Barzun Won Many Honors” (1927)

From one of several New York Times articles mentioning Mr. Barzun in 1927, the year he was graduated from Columbia College:


Valedictorian Was Born in Paris—
Has Lived Here Seven Years.

Jacques Martin Barzun, who recieved the highest academic honors of the class of ’27 at Columbia College when he delivered the valedictory address at Monday’s Class Day exercises, was born in Paris, France, nineteen years ago and has been a resident of this country for only seven years.

He recently was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, awarded the Richard H. Fox Memorial Prize, the Philolexian Prize in essay and oratory and received the William Mitchell Fellowship in modern European history. He is editor-in-chief of the Columbia Varsity, monthly literary magazine; dramatic critic of the daily Spectator, President of the Philolexian Literary Society and technical director of the annual Philolexian play.

He is the son of Dr. H. M. Barzun, Visiting Professor of French Civilization at Fordham University, who was formerly editor of L’Homme Libre, Clemenceau’s journal; aide to former Ambassador Berenger and member of the French Press Commission to the United States from 1918 to 1920.

New York Times, June 2, 1927


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Smithsonian Archives on American Art


Donald A. Stauffer Papers

Selected Papers of Donald A. Stauffer, Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Samuel Loveman Correspondence

Samuel Loveman Correspondence, Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library

George Kellogg Papers

George Alexis Kellogg, Special Collections, University of Idaho Libary

Fritz Marti Papers

Fritz Marti Papers, Special Collections, Oregon State University Libraries

Noel Annan Papers

The Papers of Noel Gilroy Annan, King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge, England

Mina Kirstein Curtiss Papers

Mina Kirstein Curtiss Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College

Erwin Chargaff Papers

Erwin Chargaff Papers, American Philosophical Society

See also Erwin Chargaff 1905–2002, by Nicholas P. Christy

Mortimer J. Adler Papers

Mortimer Jerome Adler Papers, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

In the same library:
Stanley Burnshaw Papers

Papers relating to A Catalogue of Crime

Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor Papers relating to A Catalogue of Crime and Fifty Classics of Crime, Manuscripts Department, the Library of the University of Carolina

Friday, May 19, 2006

Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Try all the links. In addition, Columbia (and other libraries) have the papers of many of Mr. Barzun’s colleagues and friends.

Barzun Papers JB Finding Aid

Jacques Barzun's Berlioz Collection HB Finding Aid HB Guide

Reminiscences of Jacques Barzun (Columbia Oral History Project)

1968 (Columbia Oral History Project: Columbia Crisis of 1968)

See also:

Lionel Trilling Papers LT Finding Aid

Dwight Miner Papers DM Finding Aid

Richard Hofstadter Papers RH Finding Aid


Thursday, May 18, 2006


[San Antonio, Texas] has one of those fine old hotels, the St. Anthony (now being renovated, but , I hope, not modernized), where one feels peaceably indoors rather than nervously exhibited through glass and metal frames.
— Jacques Barzun, “A Critic Casts a Kindly Eye on Texas”, New York Times, October 31, 1982

Mr. Barzun’s article includes this passage:

I remember sharing a platform with Malcolm Muggeridge at the University of Dallas, where the chairman remarked in his introduction that he was glad to have us there on the date of Texas Independence. Muggeridge exclaimed that he did not know Texas was independent. If he had stayed a little longer he would have known.

Edward A. Cowan writes:

I attended the University of Dallas conference at which Jacques Barzun spoke. In addition to Barzun, we heard Malcolm Muggeridge, Marshall McLuhan, Hans Georg Gadamer, and others. — E.A.C.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Cary Clack

Jacques Barzun, . . . at age 98, knows more about all there is to know than any human being I know.
— Cary Clack, “TAKS dishonors the true educators”, San Antonio Express-News, April 16, 2006

Mr. Clack’s article quotes Barzun’s 1962 essay on “The Tyranny of Testing”:

Multiple-choice questions test nothing but passive-recognition knowledge, not active usable knowledge. Knowing something means the power to summon up facts and their significance in the right relations. Mechanical testing does not foster this power. . . .

If the tendency of such tests is to denature or misrepresent knowledge, to discourage the right habits of the true student, and to discriminate against the original in favor of the routine mind, of what use are such tests to a nation that has from its beginnings set a high value on instruction and the search for truth?

See also Barzun 98.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

“The World of Robert Schumann”

The World of Robert Schumann

“The World of Robert Schumann” is an original scheme for combining instruction about a great musician with enjoyment of his music. It was planned with knowledge and judgment and executed with skill. Easily adaptable as to scale, it should be a model for academic and domestic use.”
— Jacques Barzun

Key to the conceptual evolution of the series was Jacques Barzun, the eminent humanist and educator. I found him in his offices at Scribner’s publishers in New York City. With his advice and encouragement, I began to hammer out the prevailing metaphor of the series, the quintessential image of the Romantic duality—a man on horseback. This image unites the guiding intelligence of the brain (the rider) yoked to the primary creative impulse of the primordial instinct (the horse). It has proven to be an effective aural motif throughout the series; and the hoofbeats of horse and rider can be heard many times throughout these programs, contextualizing and recontextualizing the rhythms and currents of Schumann’s age.
— John C. Tibbetts, Background of the Series

See also John C. Tibbetts

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Web Vibrations

From a Letter to Philip Johnson, April 10, 1975

I have been bowled over by your museum at Purchase and particularly by the great room decorated by Cleve Gray. The two making one whole is a monument of contemporary art whose equal is not to be found in this country.
— Jacques Barzun, Letter to Philip Johnson, quoted in Nicholas Fox Weber, Cleve Gray (New York, Harry N. Abrams, 1998), p. 25.

See also Cleve Gray.

Monday, May 01, 2006

On Making American English the Official Language of the United States

Recent items in the news make this statement topical.

I should like to see an amendment stating that American English is the official language of the United States, the only one to be used in the transaction of all public affairs, including voting. My reasons are as follows:

Language is one of the fundamental bonds by which a people is held together. It is essential to the maintenance of internal peace and external unity. In a democracy particularly, it permits debate in which all can take part, understand what and whom they vote for, reach fair and fruitful decisions.

Making American English official deprives no one of any right to use and enjoy the elements of his or her ethnic heritage; and for those same individuals, the use of the official language opens the way to the highest positions in the land.

In countries where linguistic unity has broken down, hostility, prejudice, and resentment persist and even worsen, despite the adoption of two official languages. With our cultural pluralism, how many languages would have to become official after a second one had been chosen?

— Jacques Barzun, responding to an American Heritage Magazine survey on the U. S. Constitution, May/June 1987


Bernard A. Weisberger

I attended Columbia College as a subway commuter [1939–1943?], and encountered a couple of sensational teachers, one of them Jacques Barzun, for whom, in my junior year, I wrote a paper on the Paris Commune of 1871, which earned an “A” of which I am still proud and some personal encouragement.
— from History Doyens: Bernard A. Weisberger, History News Network, April 30, 2006

A Further Fall of the House of Intellect?

Since death of Jane Jacobs on April 25 a total of 14 persons have entered condolences in a blog created in her memory. No doubt many more names have been entered in the Book of Condolence at Dooney’s Cafe in Toronto. And no doubt the media and many blogs took notice of the passing, nearly at the age of 90, of the author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities and, most recently, Dark Age Ahead. But the small number of on-line condolences brings to the memory this passage in The House of Intellect:

Mencken, who was retired and stricken, received on his last birthday exactly thirty messages of congratulation. Comes the obituary — the ultimate news — and the account is closed. Next!