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A Personal Testimonial

By Nathan M. Pusey

I came to Harvard in the autumn of 1924, an unintimidated freshman in an expectant and receptive mood.... The first time I entered the dining hall of Gore, which was then a freshman dormitory. I went to the nearest empty chair. As I sat down, I said hello to my two or three nearest neighbors. They must at least have looked in my direction; perhaps they may well have grunted a response to my greeting as a minimum concession to etiquette. But my clear recollection is that with very little recognition of my presence they went right on talking animatedly among themselves.

What talk it seemed to be! Shaw, Ibsen, Nietzsche. Back and forth the conversation went, in the clever, fragmented sentences of quick repartee. Before dessert they had gone on to Katherine Mansfield, and then in a postprandial few minutes they dealt, to their satisfaction and mine, with Cabell and Menken.

This was not the kind of talk which experience with contemporaries back home had taught me to expect. I was at once amazed, terrified, excited, and pleased. And so began my experience of Harvard.

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