The setting is one of the faculty houses on the campus of Bennington College in Vermont. The time is the end of the school year, June 1936, and the end of the last literature faculty meeting. We were trying to turn it into a mildly festive gathering. The business matters had been put aside (academic business matters are never terminated). But we were tired from the end-of-term papers, last conferences with counselees, and from the idea of the commencement weekend rites, to begin the following day.

The critic William Troy and his wife, the poet Léonie Adams, had joined the Bennington faculty in 1935. They had come to us from Washington Square College of New York University, and had weathered very well their first year at the college. Those of us who had been teaching literature for a few years at Bennington were proud they were with us. We had grown to admire them as teachers and new friends. We...


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