Wednesday, February 26, 2014

One Sentence Alone Indicates the Greatness of 'Professor' Joseph Epstein -America's Montaigne

"Without intellectual courage, even the most charmed of lives lose their allure; unwilling to declare their beliefs, even the most brilliant of men are in the end divested of their gravity."

The above knock-out punch of a sentence comes from the ungloved mitts of Chicago's own Joe Epstein.

In a gloriously written essay on the "Charmed Life" of Isaiah Berlin in last week's Weekly Standard, "Professor" Epstein concluded his assessment of a life lived, but perhaps not really worth all of the schmoozing, name-dropping and plucking appointments.

Joe Epstein recently retired from teaching at Northwestern University and recoiled from my  use of 'professor' as my term of address in greetings spoken, or written.  Joe would say, " I am not a piano player in some Kankakee Cat-House, Hickey."  I also see him as the American Montaigne - the daddy of the essay.  Not good enough.  

Joseph Epstein is the Mohammad Ali of American prose non-fiction.

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