pierre bourdieu on how to read charles baudelaire reading charles baudelaire


. . . then, ‘the critic, the viewer’ (as Baudelaire himself puts it) is able to bring about within himself a transformation, which is something of a mystery’, and, by a phenomenon of will-power acting on his imagination, can learn to share in the life of the society that has given birth to this unexpected bloom

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How to Read an Author

 

I fear that my critique of the lector’s reading will fall victim to the derealizing neutralization that this reading precisely performs. And, that here I am touching on the very foundation of scholastic belief, I would like not only to explain, or prove point, but make it felt, and in that way overcome routine, or lift by using, as a kind of parable, the case of Baudelaire, who, through successive readings and rereadings, has, more than any other writer, suffered the effects of canonization, an eternization that dehistoricizes and derealizes, while making it impossible to recreate ‘the inimitable grandeur of beginnings’ to which, in a quite different context, Claude Levi-Strauss refers.

 

With Baudelaire we are faced with a problem of historical anthropology as difficult as those that arise for the historian or ethnologist from the deciphering of an unknown society. But, because of the false familiarity we derive from long academic frequentation, we are not aware of it. One of the most hackneyed topics of the discourse of celebration of the ‘classics’, which has the effect of sending them into limbo, as if outside time and space, far away, in any case, from debates and battles of the present, consists paradoxically in as our contemporaries, those closest to us – so contemporary and so close that we do not doubt an instant the apparently immediate understanding (in reality mediated by our education) that we think we have of their work.

 

Yet we are, without realizing it, perfect strangers to the social universe in which Baudelaire found himself, and in particular to the intellectual world with which and against which he evolved and which, in return, he profoundly transformed and indeed revolutionized, by helping to create the literary field, a radically new world, but one for us, is self-evident. Being ignorant of our ignorance, we efface the most extraordinary aspects of Baudelaire’s life, namely the efforts he had to make to bring about that extra-ordinary reality, the literary microcosm as the ‘economic world reversed’. Like Manet, another great heresiarch, Baudelaire is the victim of the success the revolution he brought about: the categories of perception that we apply to his actions and his works, and which are the product of world resulting from that revolution, make them appear normal, natural, self-evident; and the most heroic breaks have become the inherited privileges of a caste, now within scope of every hack writer intent on transgression and the most mediocre celebrant of the academic cult of anti-academicism.

  

This exhortation to a genuine historical anthropology of Baudelaire can draw support from a text by Baudelaire, who wrote, in his first article on the Universal Exhibition of 1855: ‘I ask any man of good faith, provided always he done a little thinking and travelling: what would a modern Winckelman (we are full of them, nation is with them and lazy people adore them) — what, I say, would a modern Winckelman do, what would he say, at the sight of a Chinese product, a strange product, weird, contorted in shape, intense in colour, and sometimes delicate to the point of fading away? yet this object is a sample of universal beauty; but if it is to be understood, the critic, the viewer, must bring about within himself a transformation, which is something of a mystery, and, by a phenomenon of will-power acting on his imagination, he must learn by his own effort to share in the life of the society that has given birth to this unexpected bloom. Few men have received — in full — the divine grace of cosmopolitanism; but all men may acquire it to a greater or lesser degree. The most richly endowed in this respect are the lone travellers … No scholastic veil, no academic paradox, no pedagogic utopia has interfered with their vision of the complex truth. They know the admirable, the immortal, the inevitable relation between form and function. They are not ones to criticize; they contemplate, they study. If instead of a pedagogue I were now to take a man of the world, an intelligent one, and were to transport him to a distant land, I feel sure that though his surprises on disembarking would be great, though his process of acclimatization might be more or less long, more or less difficult, his sympathy would sooner or later become so keen, so penetrating, that it would create in him a whole new world of ideas, a world that will become part and parcel of him and accompany him as memories until his death. Those odd-shaped buildings that began by offending his academic eye (every people is academic in judging others, every people is barbaric when being judged) … this whole world of new harmonies will slowly enter into him, penetrate patiently.*

 

Baudelaire, the auctor par excellence, sets out clearly the principles of a reading which ought to incite the lectores that we always are to some degree to perform a reflexive analysis of the social position of the lector and make a critique of the ‘academic eye’ a preliminary to every reading, and especially to the reading of auctores. The lector

is indeed never more exposed to structural misreading than he is dealing with the auctor auctorum, the writer who invented the writer. In this case, the effects of ignorance of the historical and distance between the literary world that Baudelaire found and the one he left us are redoubled by the effects of ignorance of the social distance between lector and auctor: the derealization, the dehistoricization and the ‘banalization’, as Max Weber says of the priestly treatment of prophetic charisma, that are performed by the routine, scheduled repetition of scholastic commentary have the effect of making bearable what would be unbearable, of gaining universal acceptance for what would be unacceptable, at least for some people.


By way of a practical illustration of what the effect of ‘resurrection’ (the Kabyles say that ‘to cite is to resuscitate’) produced by a real historicization might be, I would like to offer a somewhat particular way of reading a text of Baudelaire‘s taken from a commentary on Promethie dilivre by Senneville (the pseudonym of Louis Menard): ‘This is philosophical poetry. – What is philosophical poetry? – What is M. Edgar Quinet? — A philosopher? — Er, er! — A poet? — Oh! Oh!, To reactivate the quite extraordinary violence of this text, one only has to transpose it to the present (as in exercises in old grammar books where one had to put a sentence ‘into the present’), with the aid of an intuition of the homologies: ‘This is philosophical poetry. — What is philosophical poetry? – What is Mr X (enter here the name of a present-day poet-philosopher) or Mr Y (a contemporary philosopher-poet or philosopher-journalist)? — A philosopher? — Er, er! — A poet? — Oh! Oh!’ The effect of ‘debanalization’ is striking; so much so that I could not cite the names of contemporary writers that spring to mind without appearing somewhat scandalous, or indecent. Thus, the actualization — in the sense of making present, actual- performed by structural historicization is a genuine reactivation. It helps to give the text and its author a form of transhistoricity which, in contrast to the derealization associated with eternization by academic commentary, has the effect of making them active and effective, and available, when the case arises, for new applications, especially thoseperformed by the auctor, who is capable of reviving in practice a practical modus operandi, in order to produce an opus operatum without precedent.

 

But how does such a reading differ from the wild projection, based on vague supposed analogies, to which the lector so often surrenders (especially when he wants to play the auctor by conceiving and experiencing his reading as a second ‘creation’)? The effort to put oneself in the place of the author is only valid if one has acquired the means of constructing that place as such, as a position, a point (the basis of a point of view) in a social space that is nothing other than the literary field within which the author is situated. Then, ‘the critic, the viewer’ (as Baudelaire himself puts it) is able to ‘bring about within himself a transformation, which is something of a mystery’, and, ‘by a phenomenon of will-power acting on his imagination’, can learn to ‘share in the life of the society that has given birth to this unexpected bloom’. And he may even, as I have in my exercise of socio-logical grammar, expose a strategy that can be observed in different states of the fields of cultural production, the strategy of seeking to combine the properties and profits associated with membership of two different

fields (the philosophical field and the literary field, or the philosophical field and the journalistic field; etc.) without combining the competences and accepting the corresponding costs (which is what Baudelaire’s ‘Er, er!’ and ‘Oh! Oh!’ say in their terribly economic way).

 

Thus, to be able really to understand Baudelaire’s work, and to participate actively, without the true or false modesty of the lector, in the ‘creative’ activity, one has to acquire the means of ‘sharing in the life of the society that has given birth’ to this unprecedented oeuvre, in other words the literary universe in which and against which the ‘creative project’ took shape, and, more precisely, the space of artistic (poetic) possibilities objectively offered by the field at the moment when the author was working to define his artistic intention. This is an inaugural moment, when one has more chance of grasping the historical principles of the genesis of the oeuvre, which, once its difference is invented and affirmed, will develop in accordance with its

internal logic, which is more independent of the circumstances.

Read the whole piece here
 


* C. Baudelaire, ‘The Universal Exhibition of 1855: the Fine Arts’, in Selected Writings on Art and Artists, tr. P. E. Charvet (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972), pp. 115-17.

 

One would no doubt find many occurrences of this critique of the professorial in the same text on the Universal Exhibition, for example, there is a condemnation of the ‘pedantry’ and ‘erudition’ (ibid., p. 119) of the ‘sworn professors’ that had already been seen in the sur Poe‘: ‘But the point these pundits professeurs have not thought of is that in the life process, some complication, some combination of circumstances, may arise which their schoolboy wisdom has not reckoned with’ (‘Further notes on EdgarPoe‘, in Selected Writings on Art and Artists, p. 189). And we know that Baudelaire often condemned didacticism both in painting and in art criticism (cf. for example ‘The Salon of 1859’, in ibid., p. 318).

C. Baudelaire, Œuvres completes, ed. C. Pichais (Paris: Gallimard, 1985), vol. 2,

p.9.

 

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henry miller on young writers writing

What few young writers realize, it seems to me, is that they must find—create, invent!—the way to reach their readers.

It isn’t enough to write a good book, a beautiful book, or even a better book than most. One has to establish, or re-establish, a unity which has been broken and which is felt just as keenly by the reader, who is a potential artist, as by the writer, who believes himself to be an artist . . . . The writer who wants to communicate with his fellow-man, and thereby establish communion with him, has only to speak with sincerity and directness. He has not to think about literary standards—he will make them as he goes along—he has not to think about trends, vogues, markets, acceptable or unacceptable ideas: he has only to deliver himself, naked and vulnerable. All that constricts and restricts him, to use the language of not-ness, his fellow-reader, even though he may not be an artist, feels with equal despair and bewilderment. The world presses down on all alike. Men are not suffering from the lack of good literature, good art, good theatre, good music, but from that which has made it impossible for these to manifest. In short, they are suffering from the silent, shameful conspiracy (the more shameful since it is unacknowledged) which has bound them together as enemies of art and artists. They are suffering from the fact that art is not the primary, moving force in their lives. They are suffering from the act, repeated daily, of keeping up the pretense that they can go their way, lead their lives, without art. They never dream—or they behave as if they never realize—that the reason why they feel sterile, frustrated and joyless is because art (and with it the artist) has been ruled out of their lives. For every artist who has been assassinated thus (unwittingly?) thousands of ordinary citizens, who might have known a normal joyous life, are condemned to lead the purgatorial existence of neurotics, psychotics, schizophrenics. No, the man who is about to blow his top does not have to fix his eye on the Iliad, the Divine Comedy, or any other great model; he has only to give us, in his own language, the saga of his woes and tribulations, the saga of his non-existentialism . . .

Such is the picture which doesn’t always come clear through the televistic screen. The negative, in other words, from which all that is positive, good and lasting will eventually come through. Easy to recognize because no matter where your parachute lands you it’s always the same: the everyday life. 

—Henry Miller, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch

  

 

a winter weather report from neglected poet coventry patmore

Coventry Patmore is now considered one of the major poets of the nineteenth century, in spite of the small bulk of his verse. He was born at Woodford, Essex, 23 July, 1823 and died at Lymington, 26 Nov., 1896. His "Unknown Eros" was hardly opened by the public, and is only now beginning to take its place as a great English classic; it is full not only of passages but of entire poems in which exalted thought is expressed in poetry of the richest and most dignified melody. Spirituality informs his inspiration; the poetry is glowing and alive. The magnificent piece in praise of winter is in its manner unsurpassed in English poetry. Patmore is today one of the least known, but best-regarded Victorian poets. Patmore was caricatured as the unpleasant poet Carleon Anthony in Joseph Conrad‘s novel Chance (1913).

—culled from Wikipedia and The Catholic Encylcopedia.

 

 

"Winter"

from The Unknown Eros

by Coventry Patmore

  I, singularly moved
To love the lovely that are not beloved,
Of all the Seasons, most
Love Winter, and to trace
The sense of the Trophonian pallor on her face.
It is not death, but plenitude of peace;
And the dim cloud that does the world enfold
Hath less the characters of dark and cold
Than warmth and light asleep,
And correspondent breathing seems to keep
With the infant harvest, breathing soft below
Its eider coverlet of snow.
Nor is in field or garden anything
But, duly look’d into, contains serene
The substance of things hoped for, in the Spring,
And evidence of Summer not yet seen.
On every chance-mild day
That visits the moist shaw,
The honeysuckle, ‘sdaining to be crost
In urgence of sweet life by sleet or frost,
‘Voids the time’s law
With still increase
Of leaflet new, and little, wandering spray;
Often, in sheltering brakes,
As one from rest disturb’d in the first hour,
Primrose or violet bewilder’d wakes,
And deems ’tis time to flower;
Though not a whisper of her voice he hear,
The buried bulb does know
The signals of the year,
And hails far Summer with his lifted spear.
The gorse-field dark, by sudden, gold caprice,
Turns, here and there, into a Jason’s fleece;
Lilies, that soon in Autumn slipp’d their gowns of green,
And vanish’d into earth,
And came again, ere Autumn died, to birth,
Stand full-array’d, amidst the wavering shower,
And perfect for the Summer, less the flower;
In nook of pale or crevice of crude bark,
Thou canst not miss,
If close thou spy, to mark
The ghostly chrysalis,
That, if thou touch it, stirs in its dream dark;
And the flush’d Robin, in the evenings hoar,
Does of Love’s Day, as if he saw it, sing;
But sweeter yet than dream or song of Summer or Spring
Are Winter’s sometime smiles, that seem to well
From infancy ineffable;
Her wandering, languorous gaze,
So unfamiliar, so without amaze,
On the elemental, chill adversity,
The uncomprehended rudeness; and her sigh
And solemn, gathering tear,
And look of exile from some great repose, the sphere
Of ether, moved by ether only, or
By something still more tranquil.

 

richard yates shows how the child is father to the man


Richard Yates, "A Glutton For Punishment"

For a littlewhile when Walter Henderson was nine years old he thought falling dead was the very zenith of romance, and so did a number of his friends. Having found that the only truly rewarding part of any cops-and-robbers game was the moment when you pretended to be shot, clutched your heart, dropped your pistol and crumpled to the earth, they soon dispensed with the rest of it — the tiresome business of choosing up sides and sneaking around — and refined the game to its essence. It became a matter of individual performance, almost an art. One of them at a time would run dramatically along the crest of a hill, and at a given point the ambush would occur: a simultaneous jerking of aimed toy pistols and a chorus of those staccato throaty sounds — a kind of hoarse-whispered “Pk-k-ew! Pk-k-ew!” with which little boys simulate the noise of gunfire. Then the performer would stop, turn, stand poised for a moment in graceful agony, pitch over and fall down the hill in a whirl of arms and legs and a splendid cloud of dust, and finally sprawl flat at the bottom, a rumpled corpse. When he got up and brushed off his clothes, the others would criticize his form (”Pretty good,” or “Too stiff,” or “Didn’t look natural”), and then it would be the next player’s turn. That was all there was to the game, but Walter Henderson loved it. He was a slight, poorly coordinated boy, and this was the only thing even faintly like a sport at which he excelled. Nobody could match the abandon with which he flung his limp body down the hill, and he revelled in the small acclaim it won him. Eventually the others grew bored with the game, after some older boys had laughed at them. Walter turned reluctantly to more wholesome forms of play, and soon he had forgotten about it.

But he had occasion to remember it, vividly, one May afternoon nearly twenty-five years later in a Lexington Avenue office building, while he sat at his desk pretending to work and waiting to be fired. He had become a sober, keen-looking young man now, with clothes that showed the influence of an Eastern university and neat brown hair that was just beginning to thin out on top. Years of good health had made him less slight, and though he still had trouble with his coordination it showed up mainly in minor things nowadays, like an inability to coordinate his hat, his wallet, his theater tickets and his change without making his wife stop and wait for him, or a tendency to push heavily against doors marked "Pull." He looked, at any rate, the picture of sanity and competence as he sat there in the office. No one could have told that the cool sweat of anxiety was sliding under his shirt, or that the fingers of his left hand, concealed in his pocket, were slowly grinding and tearing a book of matches into a moist cardboard pulp. He had seen it coming for weeks, and this morning, from the minute he got off the elevator, he had sensed that this was the day it would happen. When several of his superiors said, "Morning, Walt," he had seen the faintest suggestion of concern behind their smiles; then once this afternoon, glancing out over the gate of the cubicle where he worked, he’d happened to catch the eye of George Crowell, the department manager, who was hesitating in the door of his private office with some papers in his hand. Crowell turned away quickly, but Walter knew he had been watching him, troubled but determined. In a matter of minutes, he felt sure, Crowell would call him in and break the news — with difficulty, of course, since Crowell was the kind of boss who took pride in being a regular guy. There was nothing to do now but let the thing happen and try to take it as gracefully as possible.

 

That was when the childhood memory began to prey on his mind, for it suddenly struck him — and the force of it sent his thumbnail biting deep into the secret matchbook — that letting things happen and taking them gracefully had been, in a way, the pattern of his life. There was certainly no denying that the role of good loser had always held an inordinate appeal for him. All through adolescence he had specialized in it, gamely losing fights with stronger boys, playing football badly in the secret hope of being injured and carried dramatically off the field ("You got to hand it to old Henderson for one thing, anyway," the high-school coach had said with a chuckle, "he’s a real little glutton for punishment"). College had offered a wider scope to his talent — there were exams to be flunked and elections to be lost — and later the Air Force had made it possible for him to wash out, honorably, as a Bight cadet. And now, inevitably, it seemed, he was running true to form once more. The several jobs he’d held before this had been the beginner’s kind at which it isn’t easy to fail; when the opportunity for this one first arose it had been, in Crowell’s phrase, "a real challenge."

 

"Good," Walter had said. "That’s what I’m looking for." When he related that part of the conversation to his wife she had said, "Oh, wonderful!" and they’d moved to an expensive apartment in the East Sixties on the strength of it. And lately, when he started coming home with a beaten look and announcing darkly that he doubted if he could hold on much longer, she would enjoin the children not to bother him ("Daddy’s very tired tonight"), bring him a drink and soothe him with careful, wifely reassurance, doing her best to conceal her fear, never guessing, or at least never showing, that she was dealing with a chronic, compulsive failure, a strange little boy in love with the attitudes of collapse. And the amazing himself had never looked at it that way before.

 

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best new york city novels?

What? No Daniel Fuchs? Where is Mr. Sammler’s Planet by Saul Bellow? Why Paul Auster and not Hubert Selby Jr.’s Last Exit To Brooklyn?  Joesph O’Neill’s Netherlands and much of Louis Auchincloss should be here, as well as Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Best novels about New York City

 

1.  Desperate Characters, by Paula Fox
Fierce, strange and savagely insightful, this 1970 classic looks at
Brooklyn gentrification and charts a couple’s romantic downfall.

 2.  The Fortress of Solitude, by Jonathan Lethem
Comics and music infuse this whip-smart, deeply felt and slightly autobiographical meditation on youth, race and Boerum Hill. 

 3.  American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis
Long maligned and misunderstood, this satire of Wall Street excess is at once disgusting, hilarious and totally relevant to our financially crippled era. 

 4.  New York Trilogy, by Paul Auster
Gotham emerges with a patina of pure quirkiness in Auster’s triptych of pomo noir, which still stands out as his best work. 

 5.  No Lease on Life, by Lynne Tillman
A hilariously jaded East Village woman works as a proofreader by day, cracks jokes and rants about her neighborhood at night.

 6.  Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
Ellison’s hero might live in a hovel, but his jazz-infused visions of New York are vibrant and unforgettable. 

 7. House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton
Sure, some of it takes place on a country estate, but
Wharton’s scenes in Grand Central and later in Lily Bart’s dilapidated apartment rank as the purest visions of the late-19th-century city’s interiors. 

 8. Underworld, by Don DeLillo
This far-reaching novel’s descriptions of postwar
New York are executed with a combination of stunning detail and concealed dread. 

 9. Washington Square, by Henry James
Makes you happy that these days, most people can date whomever they choose.


—from
Time Out New York, March 25, 2009

scenes from the writing life: martin amis on meeting his fans


"My queue is always full of, you know, wild-eyed sleazebags . . ." 

AMIS: Judging by everything from reviews to letters I receive, I find that people take my writing rather personally. It’s interesting when you’re doing signing sessions with other writers and you look at the queues at each table and you can see definite human types gathering there.

INTERVIEWER: Which type is in your queue?

AMIS: Well, I did one with Roald Dahl and quite predictable human divisions were observable. For him, a lot of children, a lot of parents of children. With Julian Barnes, his queue seemed to be peopled by rather comfortable, professional types. My queue is always full of, you know, wild-eyed sleazebags and people who stare at me very intensely, as if I have some particular message for them. As if I must know that they’ve been reading me, that this dyad or symbiosis of reader and writer has been so intense that I must somehow know about it.

—from The Paris Review, Issue 146, Spring 1998. Interviewed by Francesca Riviere.

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short fiction from richard yates

11 Kinds of Loneliness - Original
 

Richard Yates, "Fun with a Stranger"

 

All that summer the children who were due to start third grade under Miss Snell had been warned about her. "Boy, you’re gonna get it," the older children would say, distorting their faces with a wicked pleasure. "You’re really gonna get it. Mrs. Clearys all right" (Mrs. Cleary taught the other, luck­ier half of third grade) "—shes fine, but boy, that Snell—you better watch out." So it happened that the morale of Miss Snell’s class was low even before school opened in September, and she did little in the first few weeks to improve it.

 

She was probably sixty, a big rawboned woman with a man’s face, and her clothes, if not her very pores, seemed always to exude that dry essence of pencil shavings and chalk dust that is the smell of school. She was strict and humorless, preoccupied with rooting out the things she held intolerable: mumbling, slumping, daydreaming, frequent trips to the bathroom, and, the worst of all, "coming to school without proper supplies." Her small eyes were sharp, and when somebody sent out a stealthy alarm of whispers and nudges to try to borrow a pencil from somebody else, it almost never worked. "What’s the trouble back there?" she would demand. "I mean you, John Gerhardt." And John Gerhardt—or Howard White or whoever it hap­pened to be—caught in the middle of a whisper, could only turn red and say, "Nothing."

 

"Don’t mumble. Is it a pencil? Have you come to school without a pencil again? Stand up when you’re spoken to."

 

And there would follow a long lecture on Proper Supplies that ended only after the offender had come forward to receive a pencil from the small hoard on her desk, had been made to say, "Thank you, Miss Snell," and to repeat, until he said it loud enough for everyone to hear, a promise that he wouldnt chew it or break its point.

 

With erasers it was even worse because they were more often in short supply, owing to a general tendency to chew them off the ends of pencils. Miss Snell kept a big, shapeless old eraser on her desk, and she seemed very proud of it. "This is my eraser," she would say, shaking it at the class. "Ive had this eraser for five years. Five years." (And this was not hard to believe, for the eraser looked as old and gray and worn-down as the hand that brandished it.) "I’ve never played with it because its not a toy. Ive never chewed it because it’s not good to eat. And Ive never lost it because Im not foolish and Im not careless. I need this eraser for my work and I’ve taken good care of it. Now, why cant you do the same with your erasers? I don’t know whats the matter with this class. I’ve never had a class that was so foolish and so careless and so childish about its supplies."

 

She never seemed to lose her temper, but it would almost have been better if she did, for it was the flat, dry, passionless redundance of her scolding that got everybody down. When Miss Snell singled someone out for a special upbraiding it was an ordeal by talk. She would come up to within a foot of her victims face, her eyes would stare unblinking into his, and the wrinkled gray flesh of her mouth would labor to pronounce his guilt, grimly and deliberately, until all the color faded from the day. She seemed tohave no favorites; once she even picked on Alice Johnson, who always had plenty of supplies and did nearly everything right. Alice was mumbling while reading aloud, and when she continued to mumble after several warn­ings Miss Snell went over and took her book away and lectured her for several minutes running. Alice looked stunned at first; then her eyes filled up, her mouth twitched into terrible shapes, and she gave in to the ultimate humiliation of cry­ing in class.

 

It was not uncommon to cry in Miss Snell’s class, even among the boys. And ironically, it always seemed to be during the lull after one of these sceneswhen the only sound in the room was somebody’s slow, half-stifled sobbing, and the rest of the class stared straight ahead in an agony of embarrassment­ that the noise of group laughter would float in from Mrs. Cleary’s class across the hall.

 

Still, they could not hate Miss Snell, for children’s villains must be all black, and there was no denying that Miss Snell was sometimes nice in an awkward, groping way of her own. "When we learn a new word it’s like making a friend," she said once. "And we all like to make friends, dont we? Now, for instance, when school began this year you were all strangers to me, but I wanted very much to learn your names and remember your faces, and so I made the effort. It was confusing at first, but before long I’d made friends with all of you. And later on well have some good times togetheroh, perhaps a little party at Christmastime, or something like thatand then I know I’d be very sorry if I hadnt made that effort, because you can’t very well have fun with a stranger, can you?" She gave them a comely, shy smile. "And that’s just the way it is with words."

 

When she said something like that it was more embarrassing than anything else, but it did leave the children with a certain vague sense of responsibility toward her, and often prompted them into a loyal reticence when children from other classes demanded to know how bad she really was. "Well, not too bad," they would say uncomfortably, and try to change the sub­ject
 

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