Santayana: the Later Years: A Portrait with Letters

Santayana: the Later Years: A Portrait with Letters

Santayana: the Later Years: A Portrait with Letters

Santayana: the Later Years: A Portrait with Letters

Excerpt

When I first met George Santayana in Rome in 1927, he was sixty-three years old, and I knew him intimately for the next twenty-five years -- until the very day of his death, in 1952, in the Roman nursing home on the Monte Celio. So I can speak from direct memory only of the metaphysician laboring on his profound Realms of Being, the elderly man who turned novelist and gave us The Last Puritan, the autobiographer of Persons and Places, and the author of the political treatise, Dominations and Powers.

Since his death, however, I have tried to recapture the young poet, the professor at Harvard who gave up teaching philosophy in 1912 and left America for good. In the role of a "Santayana Fellow" at Harvard in the academic year of 1954-55, I enjoyed a rare opportunity of reviving many local New England impressions that once stimulated him for better or for worse. I have talked with several old Bostonians who knew him in his Harvard days, browsed through his early manuscripts in the archives of the Widener Libraries, and even interpreted his philosophy in Emerson Hall, where for so many years he lectured with his distinguished colleagues, William James and Josiah Royce. But the fact remains that I never "saw him plain," with a fashionable beard at the turn of the century, or listened to his eloquent if somewhat "soporific" discourse in the classroom.

Of course Santayana frequently talked to me of his early years, but my appreciation was restricted by a different back-

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