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Sunday, August 24, 2003

Sunday August 24, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:56 PM

Passing the Crown

Today’s New York Times Book Review vilifies author John O’Hara as a “jerk.”  Earlier this week, the Times called him a “lout.”  These attacks amount to a virtual crown of thorns. For commentary on these attacks by the Times (a publication generally more sympathetic to Jews than to Catholics), see

The Crucifixion of John O’Hara.

But there is, to use a term of Harvard philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, “compensation.”

Today’s New York Times Magazine paints an excellent portrait of Harvard President Larry Summers.  This portrait, by author James Traub, is less than flattering.  Traub notes that Summers is “a blunt and overbearing figure,” and quotes an anonymous faculty friend of Summers as saying that many on campus “just despise him. The level of the intensity of their dislike for him is just shocking.”

Traub notes that at Harvard, “Despite the protections of tenure, virtually all of Summers’s critics were too afraid of him to be willing to be quoted by name.”

At Yale, however, at least one professor has dared to criticize Summers openly.

In the Boston Globe on August 14, Alex Beam, Globe columnist, quoted Yale music professor John Halle as saying that Summers, an economist, “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. By all accounts, he is a deeply vulgar individual….”

These remarks suggest the following illustrations, based on today’s Times Book Review and Times Magazine, of a thorny crown being thoughtfully passed to a new generation.

Author O’Hara

President Summers

1 Comment

  1. Knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing was a quote from Oscar Wilde – I think – but he probably got it from somewhere else.

    Comment by Suussiiblue — Monday, August 25, 2003 @ 10:14 AM

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