Even those who have not beheld the spectacle of American university life as participants are well aware of its social character. As Hollywood has told the world in a large number of film stories, college life in the United States is a mixture of midnight parties, football games, mad drives in motor cars, and dire conspiracies in which somebody attempts to keep the halfback (or quarterback or whatnot) from winning the Big Game and the Best Girl. Coarse and crude as Hollywood's pictures of life are, they generally contain a sort of essential truth—a small grain of reality from which all the rest is developed. University people do roar with laughter at the Hollywood account of their lives, it is true; but the laughter is slightly uncomfortable, just the same.
The essential truth about the social life of the University of Chicago in 1916 was that of Hollywood's rawest and most vulgar 'college' film. It was, put without exaggeration, just this: that no collective activity of the undergraduates had anything to do with the purposes for which they were supposed to be in the University. Dances, parties, class elections, football games, fraternity goings-on, and a thousand little enterprises known en bloc as 'campus activities' took up by far the largest part of the ordinary undergraduate's time and certainly almost all of his mind.
Chicago was by no means the worst American university in this respect; it was supposed, on the contrary, to be one of the best. An objection often urged against it by its detractors was that it lacked 'campus life.' Thank God it had no more 'campus life' than it did. Even with its heavy emphasis on graduate study, the University of Chicago could not prevent its undergraduates from being blatantly collegiate. An institution so vast, so fantastically rich, so solemnly devoted to the highest possible standards of scholarship and research, was partly inhabited by a couple of thousand young nincompoops whose ambition in life was to get into the right fraternity or club, go to the right parties, and get elected to something or other. I well remember when Professor Michelson received some distinguished honor. When the announcement was made, the undergraduate's comment was: 'Who is Michelson?' Some of us, lofty with knowledge, were able to answer that he was the father of a certain pretty girl. Aside from this we knew nothing at all about the great physicist who was one of the glories of the institution.
The business of 'campus activities' was taken much more seriously by the typical undergraduate than any subject offered for study. Freshmen were advised by their elders, and I remember many a solemn conclave in which fraternity upper-classmen debated whether X should be made to 'go out for the Maroon' (that is, work for the college newspaper) or for 'the team' (football) or for 'class politics.' Fortunately I knew very well, from my first day in the place, that I wanted to work for the college newspaper; it was almost the only thing I did know, but it was the key to all the rest.
I 'went out for the Maroon' at the earliest possible moment after matriculation. This meant reporting, with an assortment of other ambitious freshmen, to the minute editorial offices of the paper in the University Press Building. That august personage, the Editor of the Maroon, addressed us from the heights of his seniority, and we were given various small jobs of writing to do.
The amount of work done in all such undergraduate enterprises appalls me now when I think of it. I was never particularly industrious, but at various times for the Maroon, and certainly for the Blackfriars, the dramatic club, I worked like blue fury. And since work of any sort is seldom altogether wasted, I do not regret it now. The Maroon taught me, at any rate, the formulas of writing for a newspaper; and the Blackfriars taught me to stop trying to write verse. One of the songs I wrote for a Blackfriars show was so bad that sometimes it still comes back at night to haunt me.
These organized 'campus activities,' with their elaborate elective hierarchies, were supplemented at Chicago by a social life of singular ferocity. The women undergraduates had a number of clubs to which all the 'nice' girls were supposed to belong. Four or five of these clubs were 'good' and the rest 'bad.' Their goodness and badness were absolute—past, present, and future -and not to be discussed. I suppose the 'good' clubs must have been organized earlier than the others, and consequently all the prettiest and best-dressed girls who came to the University were marked from the first day for membership. The clubs had no houses or rooms of their own, but they maintained a rigid solidarity and succeeded in imposing on the undergraduate society a tone of intricate and overweening snobbery.
The men were organized, of course, into Greek-letter fraternities, each with a house for residence. Half a dozen of these were 'good' and the rest 'bad.' But their goodness and badness were not quite so irremediable, so merciless, as the similar qualifications among the women's clubs. This may be because the fraternities were national organizations, with chapters in all the American universities; and it was well known that the same fraternity might be 'good' at the University of California and 'bad' at Yale. The salutary effect of this consideration was supplemented by the fact that men, even in their first youth, do not seem to have the same high degree of social cruelty as women. Men often joined a fraternity because their brothers or fathers had belonged to it; because they had friends in it; because they liked somebody in it; or even because its house or its food or its heating system appealed to them.
Such homely and sensible reasons seldom weighed with the women. I believe all of them, true to the great tradition of American womanhood, took the very 'best' club to which they could possibly be elected. The logic of their behavior kept the structure of their club system rigid throughout my four years at the University, and I have no doubt that it is still unchanged. In that whole time I knew but one girl—the daughter of a celebrated historian—who deliberately turned down the three 'best’ clubs in order to join the fourth best, to which a friend of hers belonged. I still remember what a flurry her independence caused in the dovecotes of Foster Hall, where most of the young ladies of the social hierarchy lived.
All of this, which would sound like arrant nonsense to an Englishman or a Frenchman, is overwhelmingly important to the ordinary American undergraduate. The distinctions between the various clubs and fraternities are kept up in a million small ways, the most obvious of which is by dances and parties. A girl belonging to one of the two 'best' clubs would not dare invite to her club dance a man who did not belong to a good fraternity unless he was remarkably distinguished in some really consequential pursuit, such as football. The same was true of the men, to a lesser degree; they were encouraged by their elders in the fraternity to bring girls from the 'good' clubs to fraternity parties. The life of the world at large is snobbish enough, God knows, and the most mature men and women can do equally heartless things; but for the unashamed nakedness of its social cruelty the 'campus society' of an American university takes the cake. How much useless suffering its silly little conventions have brought upon sensitive youth frightens the adult imagination.
My own experience with the fraternity system was a weird one. It is in no way typical, but it does exhibit something of the cannibalistic character of fraternity affairs, and the intensity with which their importance is felt among the undergraduates.
I entered the University ignorant of even the names of the fraternities. Whatever I had heard, from a brother or cousin or friends in other universities, had been completely forgotten. On my first or second day I was asked to lunch at a fraternity house, and went. On the next day I discovered that the godlike creature, the Editor of the Maroon, was a member of this very fraternity. When, on about the fourth day, I was asked to take the pledge, I accepted at once.
There followed what has since seemed to me a grand tragi-comic episode. I moved into the fraternity house, where I soon had, ready-made, all the friends I could possibly need for the course of the next four years. My roommate was a dour, dark, and silent freshman with a sharp native intelligence. He now makes vast sums of money writing novels about the wild and woolly West, but at that time he was much more concerned with such effete Eastern pursuits as French composition and English literature. There were a number of other brothers in the bond who are vivid in my memory: one became a celebrated football player and now coaches the new generation of heroes at Princeton; another was a lover of music, and taught me leading motives out of the Nibelungen Ring. Above them all, in a kind of hazy splendor like that which crowns a high mountain in the sun, dwelt the supreme god, A. B., the Editor of the Maroon. He was kind to me, suggested books to read, talked to me about the scraps of verse I used to write. Nobody I have seen since possessed quite his Olympian quality, and two or three kings, with a Pope and a President thrown in, could not possibly awe me now as he awed me then. In short, I was perfectly happy in that fraternity and led an existence for two or three months which – if prolonged for four years—might have made a great difference in many things.
Then, on the very day of our initiation into the fraternity, three months after taking the pledge, a girl asked me to cut my classes and take a long walk with her. She was a pretty girl, a freshman, whom I had met in the office of the Daily Maroon, and with whom I was conducting a sort of shy and tentative flirtation. It was bitter cold that day; she was wrapped in furs and I decidedly was not; but we walked for many hours through the snowy streets, down to Jackson Park with its trees hung in ice, and out to the wintry lake. After we had been chattering about ordinary things for ten or fifteen minutes she suddenly opened up on me.
'I've been talking to various people around the Maroon about you,' she said with the frontal directness which is a disconcerting charm of American women. 'We all think you're a pretty good freshman. You might amount to something if you had any sense. I don't think you know what you're doing. I realize it's none of my business, but I've made up my mind to talk to you about it before it's too late.'
This meant nothing at all to me, and I said so.
'Oh, don't pretend that you don't understand,' she said. 'It's that fraternity. You can't possibly belong to it and make anything at all out of your college life. You'll be miserable in another year, when you know where you are. No girl will go out with you—no nice girl, that is. And you're barred from everything that makes college life what it is. Of course I know you're not Jewish, but everybody doesn't realize that, and I think it's a terrible shame.'
In my entire life I had never heard a more surprising series of statements. To say that I was bewildered is putting it mildly.
'But what are you talking about, anyway?' I asked. 'Why on earth should anybody think I was Jewish?'
'Because you belong to a Jewish fraternity,' she said.
There ensued one of the most ludicrous, painful, silly, and melancholy conversations it would be possible to imagine. In the course of it I made acquaintance with (a) the social system of the University of Chicago; (b) the Jewish problem; (c) the way of the world; and (d) my own colossal ignorance. Incredible though it seems to me now, I had never known a Jew in my life, and had no idea that there were so many of them growing there, under my eyes. I had only the most romantic and provincial notions about Jews—I thought of them as bearded old gentlemen with magic powers and vast stores of gold. Except for Rebecca in Ivanhoe, I had never made the acquaintance of a young Jew even in literature. I suppose I must have thought they had sprung full-grown into the Middle Ages and thence into the oblivion of Eastern Europe. At any rate, the fact is that I had never thought of the Jews as a possibility in the here and now—as my contemporaries in America, in Chicago. To Lucy, my pretty little girl friend,—a very vise little girl indeed, striding along in her muskrat coat,—I must have seemed a complete imbecile. At first she refused to believe that any of this was new to me.
'You're sixteen years old,' she scolded. 'You've got a fair amount of brains. My God, boy, do you mean to tell me you don't know a Jew when you see one? Look at them, idiot; look at them. They have noses, hair, eyes, features, mouths, all different from anybody else. Can you honestly tell me you don't know that ___ is a Jew?'
And then the melancholy catalogue began. One by one we ran through the list of every member of my fraternity. They were all, it seemed, Jews. So were half the freshmen, male and female, on the Daily Maroon. Lucy did not know all of them, by any means, and took pains to let me see that she would never want to know them; but their names alone were enough for her.
The last name—the one I dreaded to pronounce—was that of the godlike senior, the Editor of the Maroon. And he, too, as Lucy proved by a merciless analysis of his name and appearance, was certainly Jewish.
After this I walked for a long time in silence. Lucy kept on talking, but I scarcely heard what she said. I was trying to realize that I had been living for nearly three months in a houseful of Jews and had never even known it. I was shocked, humiliated, and angry, not because my fraternity brothers were Jewish, but because I had not known about it. The shock would have been the same if they had all turned out to be Swedenborgians, or Spaniards, or vegetarians, or believers in the transmigration of souls. It made them a special caste, a marked and unvariable species, to which I could not possibly belong. To have failed to recognize a quality so singular was also a proof of abysmal ignorance on my part. I was naïve and provincial, of course, but I had never realized to what a degree. In the end I had recourse to that expedient which we all come to at one time or another -of refusing to believe the truth.
'Well, Lucy,' I said combatively, 'I don't believe a single thing you say, but let's just suppose for a minute that it's true. Then what? What's the difference? What possible harm can it do me to belong to a Jewish fraternity?'
She began a recital which—even then—horrified me. It horrifies me even more now, because I know that the state of affairs described was by no means peculiar to the University of Chicago or even to universities. The Jews, it seemed, could not possibly go to the 'nice' parties in college. They could not be elected to any class office, or to office in any club, or to any fraternity except the two they had themselves organized; they could not dance with whom they pleased or go out with the girls they wanted to go out with; they could not even walk across the quadrangles with a 'nice' girl if she could possibly escape. And so on. The picture was painted with violence, but it was all quite true, as I was to learn before long. Hitler himself could not have invented a more savage and degrading system of anti-Semitism than that which had been worked out by those little monsters, the undergraduates. The system had been operating all around me from the day I came to college, and I had never seen it. As Lucy explained, my position was peculiar; I was a non-Jewish freshman pledged to a Jewish fraternity. My own brothers in the bond would naturally not explain these things to me, said she; and nobody else had the courage to do so.
It took another period of painful argument to convince me that these prejudices and restrictions existed. Having, for the moment, accepted them as true, I then asked why they should apply to me. Even a blind man could have had no trouble detecting that I was as Irish as Pat's pig. But Lucy, a wise and determined girl, was on the aggressive throughout the afternoon, conceding nothing; and before it was over she had nearly convinced me that I myself was regarded by my classmates as a Jew.
However much I may have disliked being taken for something I was not, this made no difference to me in the final decision. After hours of explaining, exhorting, and laying down the law, Lucy brought forth the suggestion to which all of this had been a preparation. It was that I should break my pledge to the fraternity, spend two or three months living in a dormitory (that is, a college hall), and then, in the spring, join one of the better Gentile fraternities.
I repudiated this notion with the greatest vehemence. What? Leave the place I liked best in the whole University? Abandon the friends I liked so much? Desert the roommate who was the only person I knew foolish enough, and amiable enough, to sit up arguing with me until two or three in the morning? Above all, forsake the precincts hallowed by the presence of that saint, that prince of the world, the Editor of the Maroon? Impossible!
And on that note the afternoon ended. We had walked from early afternoon until dark; we had ploughed through snow and shivered on the icy lake front; I had been more thoroughly upset than ever before in my sixteen years. Lucy entered the gates of Foster Hall without knowing whether her effort had been in vain, and I went on home to the fraternity house, which now seemed to have been invested, between luncheon and dinner, with strangeness and mystery.
The role of Lucy in this affair was a most ungrateful one, and earned for her my bitter dislike. It was all I could do to make myself talk to her when we met in the campus quadrangle after that. She had plunged me, with conscious brutality, into a world of hatreds and meannesses which I might easily have escaped for another two or three years. And yet I suppose her intention was eminently friendly; she certainly took great pains to teach me the way of the world; and it was not her fault that I was such a sentimental and ignorant fool as to dislike that way even when I conformed to it. The whole business was of enormous consequence to a sixteen-year-old boy. It was a thoroughly unwelcome revelation; it showed ugliness, barbarity, and unfathomable meanness where everything had been serene before.
I can no longer discover in my memory, no matter how hard I search, just what was my idea of a Jew at that time – exactly what I thought Jews were. It seems to me that the word had not significance at all, except the dubious significance given it in the historical romances I had spent my childhood reading. But the word must have set up some kind of reverberation in my mind, because I distinctly remember that all my friends began to seem a little mysterious to me the moment I knew they were Jewish.
The ideas that Jews are ‘Oriental,’ that they deal in dark magic, that they belong to an especially gifted and especially tragic race, are scattered so widely through all the literature of Christian Europe that I suppose one takes them in unconsciously, more or less as one absorbs air and moisture, without troubling to notice the process. It is this unconscious anti-Semitism that makes the problem so extraordinarily difficult, and encourages such desperate fabrications as the ‘Aryan’ doctrine in Germany. One is not knowingly anti-Jewish; one may never have spoken to a Jew or thought about the problem he presents; and yet the accumulated prejudices of two thousand years have so subtly and insensibly poisoned one’s mind that it comes as a surprise to learn that a particular friend, an admired acquaintance, is a Jew. Again and again I have seen grown men embarrassed by this very thing. I can think of a certain distinguished person who friends all fiercely assert that he is not Jewish, while his enemies and those who are indifferent declare that he is. If there did not exist, in the minds of the people who talk about such things, a remnant of the anti-Semitism of our forefathers, the question could never arise. We are all victims of chance bits of morality or prejudice scattered about in the literature of the centuries.
Such vague prejudices, absorbed before one knows what they are, vanish with the years. We learn in time that fat men are not necessarily jolly, or thin ones unkind; that spaghetti and garlic and snails and other weird foreign foods, regarded in childhood with horror, are actually very good to eat. Along with such oddments of superstition, the origins of which we cannot always trace, there disappears the notion that the Jews are a particular sort of people, gifted in the black arts or banded together in sorcery; we learn that they do not greatly differ from anybody else. But to dispel any of these ancestral fancies, clinging like vague vapors in the mind, we require the light and air of experience. And it was precisely experience which was most conspicuously lacking in the equipment of the sixteen-year-old freshman who ploughed through the snow that night, going home, for the first time in his life, with a Problem.
'Lemmy,' I said, coming into my room, 'I've got to talk to you. Do you think that A. B. is Jewish?'
'Of course,' he said. 'What's the matter with you?'
I told him as much as I could of the afternoon's discoveries, but there was little time. The dinner bell was ringing and freshmen could not be late.
'It's all true enough,' he said. 'I've known it all the time. Haven't you?'
His glum face was glummer than ever; he frowned intently, scratched his close-cropped black head.
'After dinner,' he said, 'we can lock the door and talk it out. Let's eat.'
Lemmy completed the education Lucy had begun. After dinner, which was a nervous meal under the circumstances, we made for our room at once to 'study.' With the door locked, we sat there and talked in the quiet voices of conspirators. He had learned—from his father, probably – a great deal about the world we lived in. Our fraternity, he told me, had been exclusively Jewish until the year before; in that year a national convention had voted to open its membership to Gentiles; and he and I were the first Gentiles to be taken in under these rules. I remember my feeling of relief when I learned that he, too, was a Gentile; at least one other freshman was in my own position.
'But why didn't somebody tell me?' I asked. 'That is what I can't understand. It seems to me that you or A. B. or somebody might have told me.'
Like Lucy a few hours earlier, Lemmy found my ignorance hard to believe. He said, patiently enough, that everybody knew these things; that the difference between Jews and Gentiles was as obvious as that between men and women, and that it would never occur to anybody to state it. He further corroborated everything Lucy had told me about the opprobrium, the ridicule, the complicated varieties of discrimination and prejudice, to which any Gentile who belonged to a Jewish fraternity must submit throughout four years in college. He had known all this when he was pledged, said he; and he had still taken the pledge because (in his humility) he supposed the 'bid' to join a fraternity to be a rare thing, and a Jewish fraternity to be better than none. He agreed that no house could be pleasanter than ours, no friends more satisfactory; but he was convinced that remaining in the fraternity meant accepting a kind of permanent ostracism from the life of the Gentile part of the undergraduate corps.
We agreed, in a high state of hysterical agitation, to do 'something.' But that something could not be long delayed. The informal initiation into the fraternity would take place in an hour; and the following day we were to take the solemn oaths of the formal initiation, far more binding than those of matrimony. We were still in turmoil when the solemn knock on our door summoned us to the ordeal.
I went into the initiation in a state of nerves which might have made the simplest trial difficult for me; but fortunately it worked just the other way. No matter what the brothers might have done, I doubt if I should have cried out or betrayed a shred of my mortal terror. The only thing I can remember saying is a sudden and involuntary 'What's that?' when the brand of the fraternity's initial letter was put on my arm and I felt the searing of the flesh. That brand still remains, faint but quite clear, to remind me of the fantastic episode of which it was a part.
My initiation was short and easy; in five minutes it was all over and I heard A. B.'s kindly voice saying, 'All right, you can go back to your room.' Trembling with relief, I raced down the corridor to my own place and got into my clothes. Lemmy was already there, dressing. The house was perfectly quiet with our door closed, but occasionally the loud laughter of the upper-classmen came through from the continuing initiation. Lemmy sat on the edge of the bed and looked very glum.
'We can pack a bag,' he said, 'and go to Aurora after everybody is asleep. We'll have to jump out the window—that is, if you've made up your mind. You've got to make up your mind. If you want to do it, I'll stick to you.’
Breathlessly, like conspirators, we agreed on a plan. We both felt that it would be impossible to face the assembled brethren, headed by A. B., and tell them our decision. They could easily overwhelm us with arguments; and to-morrow, after the formal oaths of allegiance, it would be too late. So, at some time after midnight, with all the precautions and terrors of an elopement, we dropped a bag out the window and jumped after it. From the narrow garden side of the house it was a quick scramble to the street, to a taxicab, to the train. We arrived in the middle of the night at the house of Lemmy's astonished parents in Aurora and remained there for the next two days. It was Lemmy, of course, who wrote to the fraternity to explain what we had done.
On the following afternoon, A. B. arrived to talk to us. I remember very vividly that painful interview, in which all the arguments were brought forth in their unrelieved ugliness. Lemmy and A. B. did most of the talking. I sat in a corner, miserable and silent. In the end A. B. said that, since our decision was not to be changed, he would accept it, and that it would make no difference to either of us on the Daily Maroon. In a state of suicidal gloom, all three of us then returned on the afternoon train to Chicago and the University.
A. B. seemed to me, and still seems to me, the most admirable person I knew in Chicago. He could not have been more than twenty, but he was invested, in my eyes at least, with the wisdom of the ages. He had apparently founded great hopes for the fraternity on both of us, and our desertion was a blow to him. He had a sense of justice; he could see that there was something to be said on our side, and, having accepted the monstrous situation, he made the best of it. During the rest of the year, when all the other brothers in the bond cut us dead in the street, A. B. seemed to be very little changed. And in the spring, when the freshmen were weeded out for the next step in the Daily Maroon's hierarchy, it was A. B. who made me Night Editor for the following year. There may have been other fraternity men with enough maturity of mind to rise above the system, but I never knew one. A. B. was unique in my generation.
The next three months were, for Lemmy and me, a taste of thoroughgoing ostracism from the normal 'campus.' We were, for the winter term, 'barbs' -that is, 'barbarians,' since 'all who are not Greeks are barbarians.' But we were in far worse position than other 'barbs,' because they, for the most part, cared little or nothing about the ordinary undergraduates, led their own lives, and had their own friends. We had none.
It is a curious fact, which may or may not prove anything, that almost every man or woman of my generation at the University who has since made any impression at all on the world was a 'barb.' Some of them, like John Gunther, were barbarians from choice and on principle; others, like Glenway Wescott and Elizabeth Madox Roberts, were so sharply different from the ordinary undergraduates that the fraternities and clubs would have been afraid of them. Glenway Wescott frightened most of his classmates by his waving yellow hair and his floating black cape and his weirdly literary manner of speech. Elizabeth Roberts, austere and diligent, serious with a terrifying concentration, never showed the slightest interest in the frivolities of the ordinary undergraduates. These and other 'queer ones' came to be almost my only acquaintances in the University during that term of ostracism from the gayeties of the campus; they were (God save us all!) the 'Poetry Club.'
The Poetry Club had been formed early in the winter of my freshman year by Robert Morss Lovett and other professorial advocates of an intellectual life for undergraduates. It had started as a prize competition for student poetry. I had sent in two bits of verse, neither of them much good, and had thereafter concealed my temerity from everybody, even from A. B. The prize was awarded to a senior whose name I forget, a medical student; but it was explained in the Daily Maroon that this had required two ballots, since on the first it was found that three undergraduates had tied for first place. The three were the aforesaid medical student, Glenway Wescott, and myself. The medical student got the twenty-five dollars and we got the Poetry Club.
There were only six members of the Poetry Club when it was founded, I believe. It has since amused me to reflect that all of the six afterward earned their livings in one way or the other by their imaginations. Two of them became successful novelists, Elizabeth Roberts and Glenway Wescott; one, Yvor Winters (he used to be Arthur Winters), is one of the Santa Fe poets; one is the editor of a paper which gives racing tips in New York; one is a doctor; one—myself—a tramp journalist.
We used to meet solemnly in little padded drawing-rooms in Ida Noyes Hall and discuss the productions of our colleagues. I never liked my own verse well enough to read it aloud, but I remember that Glenway always had a sheaf of immortal poetry somewhere about him, which he was ready to read out at the drop of a hat. His poetry was exceedingly 'modern,' without rhyme or metre or capital letters or punctuation, and very often (to my untutored ear) without sense, either. But I was conscious enough of my shortcomings to realize that this was probably my fault, not his; and I sat through many a long reading of which I could make neither head nor tail. Glenway's voice and accent were extraordinary, such a mixture of Oxford English and Chicago preciosity as made me wonder where on earth he came from. It was almost impossible to believe the truth, that he had leaped into the University straight from the wilds of a Wisconsin farm.
The solemnity of these gatherings at the Poetry Club would have stunned T. S. Eliot himself. It was sometimes extremely difficult for me to keep from snickering, particularly when the young poets were carried away by the excitement of reading their own productions. More than once Jeans, the president, had to reprove me for undue levity in comment. I still think the whole thing was funny, but not perhaps so uproariously funny as it seemed to me at sixteen. The whole fraternity-and-campus-collegiate side of me crinkled with hostile and unreasoning laughter at the sight of Glenway declaiming his impassioned verses, his yellow mane thrown back and his childish face uplifted. His subsequent development into a sincere and sensitive artist would have seemed incredible to me then, if anybody had been so rash as to predict it.
The barbarians, the grinds, and the highbrows undoubtedly learned a great deal more in the University than I did. Scornful of the whole 'campus life' which preoccupied the rest of us, they grew into intellectual maturity more rapidly than their fellows, and I am certain that their interest in general ideas was aroused long before most of us knew what an idea was. They knew nothing of fraternities or clubs, went to no 'parties,' ignored the existence of football. It might have been a good thing if I had remained one of them. But I was afflicted by a dichotomy which has never left me: I could not avoid trying to make the best of two worlds. The term of ostracism to which Lemmy and I had been submitted by inter-fraternity rules came to an end in the spring, and I soon forgot all about the Poetry Club in the excitement of readmission to the other, the average, world of the undergraduates.
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