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(Ed. Note--The Crimson does not necessarily endorse opinions expressed in printed communications. No attention will be paid to anonymous letters and only under special conditions, at the request of the writer, will names be withheld. Only letters under 400 words can be printed because of space limitations.)
To the Editor of the Crimson:
Now that the tercentenary is over--the heart of any university, whether it is a year or three hundred years old, is the faculty. Can it be that Harvard is senile enough to let that truism slip out of its mind? The news that the University had permitted Bernard De Voto to get away from it I heard with an emotion pretty close to amazement. Mr. De Voto's other students, and anyone else who knows his work, must be similarly amazed.
There are so many mediocre teachers. There are so many at Harvard. Harvard should have hung on to Benny De Voto if it had to offer him Sever Hall with the Memorial Chapel thrown in. I am aware that he resigned in order to accept the editorship of the Saturday Review of Literature. But if a great university has no resources sufficient to retain a teacher it badly needs, a good many young men are going to regret that fact.
He ranked as an instructor. In his comparatively brief career at Harvard he turned out only a handful of students. A smaller handful still will ever be what some of his colleagues would call men of letters. But even in his short time he made English 31, or whatever they call it now, clearly the best composition course Harvard has had for many years. Any qualified person will tell you, moreover, that in the field of American literature Mr. De Voto's ability can be equalled only with difficulty. I cannot believe that Harvard does not know what everyone knows . . . He actually made his students think. He made the dullest of them think. The dullest of them hereby testifies that De Voto was the only man he studied under who ever did succeed in making him think. His students felt for him afterwards the incommunicable affection they reserve for a great--I pick out the adjective, I use it deliberately--a great teacher . . . Well, there are still, no doubt, a number of pleasant gentlemen at Harvard who can chat about Pater's style and in the best English tradition invite their students to tea. I wonder how many composition teachers there are. Paul Driscoll, '34
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