gentle rereader

. . . rediscovering Jacques Barzun

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Requiescat in Pace

Jacques Barzun

30.xi.1907 – 25.x.2012

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San Antonio scène

After visiting Trinity’s library, I headed for the cleaner’s to pick up my suit.  Though the promised delivery time had arrived, my suit had yet to come back from the dry cleaning plant.

Impatience might have gotten the better of me if I’d just stood there waiting, but I remembered a friend’s request to bring back a chili pepper braid.  I asked the owner if there was a place nearby that might have one.  Advised that it was a tourist item mainly available at the downtown market on weekends, he suggested trying the nearby H-E-B.

What’s the Barzun connection?  H-E-B’s Broadway Central Market displayed a banner that read “Passport France”.  Beret wearing staff members and customers were having fun with model-and-artist cutouts.  Greeted in French as I entered the store, I exchanged kisses with the cheerful stranger.  San Antonio had been primed for “Berlioz and Barzun” … and the concert was now only a couple of hours away.

In memoriam LJM

Publication includes public speaking.  Jacques Barzun spoke everywhere from the classrooms of Columbia to the Library of Congress, from New York’s 92nd Street Y to Aspen and Glimmerglass, on radio programs and vinyl records.  Barzun’s “blessed year of sabbatical spoils”, 1943–1944, saw him listening and speaking on campuses from coast to coast before dashing off (in just five weeks) his first bestseller, Teacher in America.  Never a captive of the Ivory Tower, Barzun still made time for speaking to groups of students and teachers during the ensuing decades, from Princeton to Stanford to Trinity in Texas.  There on a visit to San Antonio – around the time that Jacques began writing From Dawn to Decadence – he spoke to a Trinity audience that included a brilliant young woman, Lara Moore.  Like Jacques, Lara would go on to graduate first in her class.

I visited Trinity University during the afternoon before the “Berlioz and Barzun” concert. Honoring the memory of Dr. Moore, I had donated a copy of Michael Murray’s Jacques Barzun: Portrait of a Mind to Trinity’s Elizabeth Huth Coates Library. The recently published book had been added to their Special Collections, possibly because of the memorial tribute to a distinguished alumna tipped in:

My hope was that present and future Trinity students might encounter Lara when checking out his biography.  So on the day of the Barzun tribute I delivered a second copy of his biography to her collegiate alma mater for circulation.  Introducing you to Lara in a similar way recalls cherished memories of a dear friend.

Like Barzun’s French ‘Race’, Dr. Moore’s dissertation was published:  Restoring Order: The Ecole des Chartes and the Organization of Archives and Libraries in France, 1820–1870 (Litwin Books, 2008).

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