It was the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis and then of the Profumo affair, of Mandy Rice-Davies and Christine Keeler—the hot topic of conversation at the trucking company, largely because my fellow rate clerk happened to be an expatriate Brit.

The Papish Case

No, the proper context in which to view this case was Barbara’s dilatoriness in satisfying the requirements for her degree, that she nevertheless found time to do other things, that she had been warned, that she was not anyway a citizen of Missouri, and that on an earlier occasion she had handed out leaflets that used the beyond-the-pale word m—–f—– (as they daintily put it) at the Memorial Tower, a precinct on campus sacred to the memory of American war dead and in front of visiting high school students and their parents.


In due course my father showed up at Fort Lee police station, having taken the subway to 181st Street and walked across the bridge in the rain. Together we walked back across the bridge and took the subway home to Brooklyn. All I remember my father saying, on that long and dreary journey, was that his boss had told him they could not keep him on if this were to happen again.

Senior lecturer

The great books of the 1950s and 1960s were to be chewed over and quarreled over for the next forty years, but the terms of the debates they engendered were never displaced. They were anyway simply better books than anything that came after, and in retrospect I can see why I was drawn to the discipline as it then was, and why I was never afterwards diligent about keeping up with the literature, as they called it.