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September 14, 2020


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Jeff Rice

Many years ago, far too long to remember the date, Mr. Epstein reported that he gave an address to the freshman class at, maybe Grinnell. Or maybe Kenyon or Dennison. Memory of the place fades. He mentioned how uneducated this neophytes were, indeed the were ignorant of two people mentioned in his talk, The Goncourt Brothers. I was appalled. Imagine how, sometime in the 1980s a class of first years at a fine liberal arts college should be unaware of these ever so important French literary giants. It is not clear to me whether Joe really believes half the stuff he says, or which half. Those of us who know Joe or many of us anyhow, have a tendency to like the person and dislike the ideas. Or to put it in pedagogical terms, make the student feel personally comfortable and intellectually challenged. Even if it means having to learn things about which they are unaware or find distasteful.

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