I first encountered Teacher in America in about 1949 when I was still in high school. I have read that book at least twice a decade since, and I find myself quoting from it — to myself if not in print — whenever I think about education. The very chapter titles are miniature essays worth contemplation.
I only met him once, and he will not recall the encounter, a Columbia academic affair I attended as guest of Karl Wittfogel. At the time I knew I was privileged to meet a great man.
Some of us will remember his radio conversations. That format, which allowed us to listen in, has never been bettered; for some reason it didnít work on television. I keep hoping podcasting will revive it, but I doubt it will ever be better than the Barzun conversations with Fadiman and others. I heard them at a formative time in my intellectual life, and while details fade, some remain vivid to this day.
Jacques Barzun had already been a national treasure for more than half a century — and then came the astonishing From Dawn to Decadence. I am pleased to hear that he is still hard at work. That gives us all hope.