Saturday, September 29, 2007

4 4 Jacques

Four Java applets in recognition of Jacques Barzun’s 100th birthday.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Jeffrey P. Hart Papers

Guide to the Papers of Jeffrey P. Hart, Dartmouth College Library

In the Spirit of Flaubert and Barzun

Dictionary of Received Ideas, Dartmouth Review, September 27, 2007.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Columbia College Today

Barzun, Nearing 100, To Receive Great Teacher Award, Columbia College Today, September/October 2007.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fred Catapano

Jacques Barzun, Customer

Imagine Jacques Barzun receiving haircuts from two different barbers: one not knowing who Jacques is, and the other knowing full well. . . .


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Paul Kellogg

This tribute to Jacques Barzun was spoken by Paul Kellogg at this summer's Glimmerglass gala weekend:

Overheard at Glimmerglass

Jacques Barzun first came to Glimmerglass in the summer of 1989 at the urging of his close friends and former students, Bill Oliver and Michael Willis. . . .


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The New York Intellectuals

The subject of probably too many books and articles, the New York Intellectuals were no doubt overrated in their achievements. Not one of them — with the exception in art criticism of Clement Greenberg and in literary criticism of Lionel Trilling — left a body of criticism or cultural commentary that figures to endure, and the author of the next of these essays on the literary life for The New Criterion, the one written in 2032, may well turn out never to have heard of Philip Rahv. Yet, whatever their weakness, the New York Intellectuals represented a level of seriousness about culture, its problems, questions, and issues, whose absence has made a difference in the tone of literary culture. More than snarky, their criticisms could be downright snarling, but they had a weight that no current literary critics seem able to supply. Kindly praise is always nice, appreciation pleasant, but authoritative understanding is best of all, and few are the critics left today who seem in a position to supply it.

The New York Intellectuals were, moreover, pure types of the intellectual. They have been replaced by something called public intellectuals. Lionel Trilling, Jacques Barzun, William Phillips, Diana Trilling, Dwight Macdonald, Robert Warshow, Midge Decter, and other of the New York Intellectuals did not comment regularly on current events or appear regularly on television and radio talk shows as do the so-called public intellectuals. They saw their job as that of investigating and making some sort of sense of the general culture — cultural criticism was their calling. Their materials derived from the culture itself: its books, paintings, films, and sometimes popular culture. Each had his or her own politics, but their politics tended to be the least interesting, and often the silliest, thing about them. When these politics came to the fore — as did Mary McCarthy’s in Vietnam — they were almost always disappointing. Dwight Macdonald once said that he was wrong whenever he said Yes, which he did for the last time in his life to the student revolution of the 1960s: wrong again.

— Joseph Epstein, The literary life at 25, New Criterion, September 2007.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Jacques Barzun and the Future of History

A blog post by Brian Frank

Also noteworthy:

a letter from Donald Clarke in the Des Moines Register.

Be all the judge you can be, by Jonathan Tobias

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Charles Scribner III

In the Company of Barzun

Three decades ago, between graduate degrees, I entered the publishing business — then still a family house — by accident of birth. It was to be a part-time job before moving on to a life in academe. . . .

Also of interest: Audio Interviews with Charles Scribner, Jr. The interviewer is Don Swaim.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Learn to Enjoy It

A tale charms by its ingenuity, by the plausibility with which it overcomes the suspicion that it couldn’t happen. That is art. Learn to enjoy it.
— Jacques Barzun, Street Encounter Past Midnight: The Nonbeliever’s Comeuppance, in Dilys Winn, ed., Murder Ink: The Mystery Reader’s Companion New York 1977, 17.

The nonbeliever is Edmund Wilson.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Honorables

In Wikipedia Talk: Jacques Barzun, Mr. John Link asked where to find Mr. Barzun’s opinion about awarding academic degrees to artists. One place to look is The American University, 1968, 236–238.

There is also this from Trim the College!:

What of the student whose interest lies in the direction of film and theatre, art and music, photography and television, and who wants a “major” in one of them to “qualify” for a job in these industries the day after graduation? Those activities are pre-professional. Let there be a School of Applied Arts on campus or at the nearby university, similar to the Schools of Business and of Journalism. The applied arts are not college work; the very scheduling of long hours of practice makes for conflict with the other studies.

And here is a letter about honorary degrees:


Published: June 17, 1984, The New York Times

To the Editor:

The subject of honorary degrees is not of great importance, but having been incompletely quoted about it in a May 27 news article, I should like to dispel the impression that I would reserve such degrees for academic scholars.

On the contrary: university people have earned their doctorates, and honorary ones are as redundant for them as they are inappropriate for public figures.

The academic world should confer honorary degrees on people outside its walls who have done comparable work. All degrees would thus have been earned, in course or through independent study.

In other words, I should like to see the university exercise a judgment it alone can pass on work it knows something about, instead of merely ratifying, with rather comic solemnity, public acclaim already bestowed on artists, businessmen and political leaders.

JACQUES BARZUN, New York, June 7, 1984


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Romans of the Decadence

For a good view of Thomas Couture’s Romans of the Decadence, the painting on the cover of From Dawn to Decadence, see the blog Studio Foundations and click on the picture.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Florence (Flo) Grant

My Favorite Memory of Mr. B.

In the early 1970s, when I was Executive Assistant to the Vice President for Finance, Douglass Hunt, a distinguished and sophisticated Washington attorney, who served under the then Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Fowler, we shared the 110 Low Library suite with the renowned Professor Jacques Barzun. . . .


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Society of Columbia Graduates


Includes links to the Invitation and ways to reserve places by mail or on-line.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Robertson Davies

I suppose you have read Jacques Barzun’s fine attack on them [Behind the Blue Pencil]? To attempt to tell Barzun how to write demands the temerity of ignorance, but that is what they would be full of, if they were not full of Doctor Dock’s banana shit. . . . .
— Robertson Davies to Horace W. Davenport, April 20, 1986, in Judith Skelton Grant, ed., For Your Eye Alone: The Letters of Robertson Davies, 1999.