The other day Edward Mendelson was here at Wheaton, speaking to my Modern British Literature class about Auden and then, in the evening, delivering a spellbinding lecture on persons and categories in Homer. A really fine time was had by all.

Needless to say, a cell phone went off ten minutes into the talk. That always happens, though, doesn’t it? Have you ever been to a lecture when that didn’t happen?
But then, half-an-hour into the lecture, a few students and a couple of off-campus visitors strolled in and, in a quite leisurely fashion, found their way to seats in the middle of the room. They then began to chat with their neighbors because (I later learned) they were coming to hear a female philosopher deliver a lecture on Anselm and were disconcerted to hear a male literary critic talking about Homer. It appears that some other philosophy lectures had been given in that room, so they figured that one would be too, though they had received handouts in their classes telling them where the lecture actually was to be held. Eventually they got up and wandered out.
A little later someone came in at the door near which I was sitting. He had two styrofoam containers in his hands, which he handed to the students sitting next to me. He then turned and walked out. The students opened the containers and munched away quite contentedly. Even when the lecture was over they still sat there dragging French fries through ketchup.
So I wrote this.


  1. I think the rule that is most commonly ignore is the one regarding questions. It's more than a little frustrating to hear your peers trying to name drop books they've read or terms they just picked up in a philosophy course, pretending they have a question. If you need that much validation of your learning, go call your mother.

  2. Ha! All of the foregoing (except the clacking laptop) is why I stopped going to movies over a decade ago.

    And seriously OT – I'm reading some Claude Rawson on the Augustans, and a continuous thread is his references to the response to the Augustans by later authors, especially Yeats. I can just about handle the Thackeray and Eliot references, but I'm seriously ignorant re Yeats. Any suggestions for an intro? Is the Ellmann bio a good place to start?

  3. R. E. Foster's big two-volume biography of Yeats is definitive, but for a basic understanding of the poetry (and the outlines of the life) I'd start with Denis Donoghue's book called simply William Butler Yeats.

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