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Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off

In response to:

Lenny! from the December 19, 2013 issue

To the Editors:

In Robert Gottlieb’s fine review of Leonard Bernstein’s letters, Bernstein’s encounters with Lillian Hellman came up [NYR, December 19, 2013]. It brought to mind my only encounter with her. It was at a Board of Editors meeting of The American Scholar. I was introduced and she insisted on knowing how I pronounced my name—“steen” or “styne.” I used a formula I had learned from my then New Yorker colleague Burton Bernstein—Lenny’s brother. When asked Burton always said “eether or eyther.” Ms. Hellman then provided the information that Lenny pronounced it “steen.” This I knew for an absolute fact was wrong. Lenny was “styne” all the way. When I politely explained this to her she glared at me and walked away after saying “Bernsteen” again.

Jeremy Bernstein
Aspen, Colorado

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