Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Andrew Ferguson

The most satisfying response invariably came from Jacques Barzun, who was then what he is now, at 99 — the country’s leading man of letters. He’d corresponded with Andre Gide and Raymond Chandler, befriended Auden and Eliot, been an intimate of Trilling and a wayward disciple of Dewey. He had traveled everywhere, known everyone, learned everything, and found time along the way to write a half dozen books of enduring value. His recommendations never fell short of what we’d hoped for. From the store of his reading that year — unimaginably vast and various — he’d place a book about minor-league baseball alongside a new free verse translation of Rimbaud up against an unusually clever, and hard to find, how-to manual about woodworking. I don’t think I ever got around to reading any of the books, but I slept better knowing that Jacques Barzun had.
— Andrew Ferguson, Contribution to Books for Christmas, The American Spectator, 12/12/2006.