Thomas Wolfe at Washington Square

Thomas Wolfe at Washington Square

Thomas Wolfe at Washington Square

Thomas Wolfe at Washington Square

Excerpt

Our purpose in publishing this book is twofold: to place in the hands of those interested as careful an account as we have been able to put together of the connection of Thomas Clayton Wolfe with the Washington Square College of New York University and of his life and development during that period; and, with our royalties from the sale of this volume and its companion, to create a prize or scholarship in Wolfe's name to aid some student like "Abe Jones" in his unapplauded quest for an education.

We derive this purpose from Professor Homer Andrew Watt, late chairman of the Department of English of the College, who was Wolfe's employer, immediate superior, and always a timely friend. Dr. Watt conceived the idea for the book shortly after Tom's death, but, though he was better equipped than anyone else to write and edit it, the harassments that fell to his post during the depression, the Second World War, and the postwar expansion, followed by a subtle and debilitating illness which he faced with a courage that took all his strength, kept him from ever drafting more than eleven pages of an introductory essay, occupied largely by full quotation from the first exchange of letters between Tom and himself.

When we picked up the task, we had a very clear sense of our inadequacy for it. But the obligation was a sacred one: Dr. Watt had summoned Mr. Pollock to his bedside in the French Hospital late in his final illness, had secured a pledge for the completion of the book, and had designated Mr. Cargill to assist him. We were aware that . . .

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