Friday, April 11, 2008

Move over, Dorothy Parker

As the result of a series of random discoveries and coincidental conversations, I have been tracking down the great American essayist and critic Elizabeth Hardwick online to find out more about her. Hardwick and her husband, the American poet Robert Lowell, co-founded the New York Review of Books in the spring of 1963, the first issue roughed out on their dining-room table. (I got a peculiar thrill from reading this; I used to do exactly the same thing with Australian Book Review, every fourth weekend from April 1987 to December 1988, and when I read this about Hardwick and Lowell I felt a flash of minnow-like, retroactive empathy with these fabled whales of New York.)

Hardwick died late last year, at the age of 91, and as she moved towards this venerable stopping place, someone asked her in an interview how she felt about growing older. She replied “Its only value is that it spares you the opposite: not growing older."

3 comments:

Bernice said...

Can someone tell Brendon Nelson that?

M-H said...

I've said that to people and they've looked blankly at me.

Pavlov's Cat said...

It's funny how people don't get it, actually; maybe our minds are powerfully configured not to contemplate death unless it's spelled out. Which may be one reason why that TV ad a few years ago in the drive-safely campaign with the kid in it saying 'And now I'll be six for ever and ever' was so powerful. I'll never forget how shocked I was when somebody explained to me (and not very long ago, either) what Humpty Dumpty (I think) means when he says to Alice that seven and a quarter is a very untidy sort of age, and 'with proper assistance, you could have left off at seven.'