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Randall Jarrell – Conversing with academics

October 9, 2014

“Gottfried knew more than you did, and could do more with what he knew; and when you looked for a clause, beginning with but, that would end the sentence in your favor, you could not find one. …

He made generalizations even when he didn’t have anything in particular to make them with; and he understood so well what things necessarily are that he didn’t see, sometimes, what they accidentally were. …

In ungracious moments I felt that their minds were traps in which things came to an already-agreed-upon end; and they must have felt that my mind was so open that things streamed through it without coming to any conclusion at all. (I felt that they must have felt this: but how easily we give to others the understanding of our own qualities that only we possess!) …

I felt… that it is better to entertain an idea than to take it home to live with you for the rest of your life.”

(from Pictures from an Institution [1954])


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