was fortunate to know Jacques Barzun as both a teacher and colleague.
Jacques changed my life from basketball jock to library denizen. So
intoxicated was I by the Trilling-Barzun seminar that I wanted to speak French,
dress like Jacques, and write literate cultural essays about every topic the
mind could conjure. I was hooked, a true Barzun apostle.
later, in 1992, he asked me to write the introduction to the reissued
version of The American University (1967).
I assumed this would be a four- or five-page exercise completed in a few
days. Little did I know. Jacques insisted that I write a history of the
university from ’67 to ’92, a far more formidable task than I anticipated.
However, the opportunity to work with him was a privilege I will never forget.
Once again, he was my instructor forcing me to justify every word. He was a
rigorous taskmaster, demanding but kind.
so many respects Jacques Barzun was a model of erudition, common sense and
breathtaking knowledge. Whatever modest attainments I have achieved are due in
no small part to this extraordinary man who was teacher, friend and confidante.