Trial Balance: The Education of An American

By Alan Valentine | Go to book overview

Preface

FOR many years I have been more devoted to Angus than to any other man. His little successes and failures, and how he took them, have given me satisfaction, amusement, and dismay. We have shared close intimacy and unpopular opinions, and in recent years have indulged in mutual speculations in what we could learn by looking backward over our earlier experiences. Angus sought in his more confident past the explanation of his present confusions, and although few of his conclusions are original they interest me as a man's reactions to himself and his times.

Angus never thought of his life as material for biography: what can be told is unimportant and what is significant cannot be told. Personal experiences are worth recording only if they throw some light on those of others. His own exposure to the forces of our times was in some ways characteristic of a twentieth-century American and in others unusual. Whether his reactions are typical or unique, they may amuse the psychologists, or possibly console other men that they are not alone in their uncertainties.

Because he had lived chiefly in academic circles, Angus evaluated all his experiences in terms of his education. He was attracted by the idea of carrying forward the story of the education of an American from the point where Henry Adams left off. Adams had written of himself as a nineteenth-century American aristocrat educated to eighteenth-century concepts; Angus would try to present himself as a wanderer in the twentieth, who had

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