Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Letter to the New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “A Critic Has Praise for a Playwright (Himself)” by Jonathan Kalb [Nov. 12]:

In addition to being a critic, academic, translator and playwright, Eric Bentley has also been a showman with an uncanny way of singing Brecht’s lyrics. His was not a musical voice but a highly expressive one that could bring out Brecht’s cynicism without resorting to agitprop growling. Equally important, Mr. Bentley was part of Columbia University’s golden age, when professors like Gilbert Highet, Maurice Valency, Lionel Trilling and Jacques Barzun, among others, convinced a generation that a humanistic education was a goal worth pursuing. Mr. Bentley was a popularizer, but in the best sense. He made it seem that with a degree in one of the humanities, there was no limit to what one could accomplish.

Bernard F. Dick
Teaneck, N.J.
The writer is a professor of communication and English at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
New York Times, November 19, 2006