In 1922 the printer-typographer Monroe Wheeler, who would go on to have a long and distinguished career with MoMA, set off to be a young-man-about-Europe. He was determined to publish poetry and publish it elegantly, to which end he established (first in Germany) an imprint called Manikin, under which he issued three booklets of verse. The first, The Indians in the Woods, was by a young Midwestern poet named Janet Lewis; William Carlos Williams’s Go Go was the second; the third and last was Marriage, by Marianne Moore.

Not long before he left Illinois, Wheeler had got his feet wet typographically, so to speak, by publishing two books of verse now not easily secured: The Bitterns, by his friend Glenway Westcott, and The Immobile Wind, by a young teacher of languages named Arthur Yvor Winters, who had, not long before, been released from the Sunmount Sanatorium in Santa Fe, where he recovered from a serious bout with tuberculosis. Young Winters was soon to go off to Moscow, Idaho, to take the only teaching job he could get, but, on a trip to Chicago, he met Janet Lewis. Monroe Wheeler was one link, poetry a second, and tuberculosis a third, for Janet Lewis too was soon forced to go off to Sunmount, where—after nearly five years—she also recovered. Hers was a close call. The two married in 1926—Janet Lewis was still in Sunmount and Yvor Winters still teaching in Idaho, from whence he carried on an intense correspondence, largely about poetics, with Hart Crane, Allen Tate, and others. Once Janet Lewis was well, the young couple moved to California and Winters took up the professorship at Stanford that he was to hold for the rest of his life.

Together the two writers raised children (two), Airedales and goats (many), and—one might say—poets: ranks upon ranks of poets who came to learn from Winters; in their memoirs he is still legend. He wrote his books, Janet wrote hers. To his enemies in criticism—at various times they included the Agrarians (particularly John Crowe Ransom), Eliot, Pound, R.P. Blackmur, and many others—Yvor Winters was a bruiser, a kind of absolutist gladiator who struck often and with considerable accuracy at flaws in a poem or a critical system. To poets—from Hart Crane on to J.V. Cunningham, Donald Justice, Donald Hall, Thom Gunn, Ann Stanford, Robert Haas, and many others—he was a kind of Apostle, though of course they felt varying degrees of allegiance to his beliefs about poetry and of attachment to the man himself; but to Janet Lewis he was, for forty-two years, a much-treasured husband, as she makes clear in an audiotape made twenty years after his death. The cut of that grief went very deep; his name, A. Yvor Winters, is still on the mailbox of their modest house in Los Altos.

Of all the above mentioned, Wheeler and Westcott, Crane, Tate, Williams, Marianne Moore, and Yvor Winters are gone, but Janet Lewis lives on, for the most part happily, in Los Altos; her sight has weakened but not her spirit. She has published poetry in every decade of this century except the first, poetry that has never lacked for champions. One of the most ardent, at present, is Thom Gunn, who had this to say about her most recent collection, The Dear Past (1994):

I think she should be getting the closest attention. In this collection of old age, almost incredibly, she is simultaneously as stringent and sweet-natured, as sharp and generous as she was throughout the Collected Poems. She is as ever deceptively simple. That is, hers is the best kind of simplicity, because it contains an implied complexity….

The Dear Past reprints poems published between 1918 and 1991, a wingspan all but incredible, and made the more so by the clarity and authority of a voice she has sustained for so long: a voice that is considered, lucid, spare, and tough on itself in a high Midwestern way. Though perhaps less imperatively than her husband, she too has touched many poets, from the time of Hart Crane to the time of Robert Haas. Of her verse she has kept and reprinted only about a poem a year, taking her time and finishing her work; luckily she has been granted a great deal of time to take.

In addition to the poetry Janet Lewis has written two children’s books, six books of prose, four libretti, and a number of chorales. Though I am mainly concerned in this essay to applaud and perhaps bring new readers to the three remarkable historical novels she published between 1941 and 1959, I do think that Janet Lewis’s more than eighty years of vigorous, variegated, and steady devotion to literature deserves a salute. She is a striking example of a quiet talent working quietly through almost the entirety of a noisy, celebrity-heavy century.


From so much attention one would expect a masterpiece, and it too is there, The Wife of Martin Guerre (1941), the story of an artifice so skillful, so confusing to its victims, that simple honesty is defeated and a good woman brought to ruin.1 It’s a short novel that can run with Billy Budd, The Spoils of Poynton, Seize the Day, or any other of the thoroughbred novellas that might be brought to the gate.

In a statement given to Stanley Kunitz and Howard Haycraft for the 1955 edition of that still-invaluable reference work Twentieth Century Authors, Janet Lewis made a couple of intriguing statements. She mentions her husband’s standing as a breeder of Airedales, but says nothing about his fame as a literary critic, encouraging us to suspect that the much-feared Yvor Winters, one of the hardest hitters of the bare-knucklers who slugged it out in the bloody pit of criticism as it was in the Thirties and Forties, may really have put more of his heart into his dogs. About herself she has this to say:

I have lived a life rather lacking in “events” but with a rich and in the main very happy background. This sort of life does not provide a very interesting brief biography. The interest is chiefly in the background, which can’t be treated briefly and still be interesting.

Though that statement was made forty-three years ago, I doubt she would modify it much today.


That life began in Chicago, in 1899. (Janet, who is often amused, was particularly amused recently when a schoolgirl pointed out that if she makes it another couple of years she’ll have lived in three centuries.) Her father, Edwin Herbert Lewis, a teacher and writer, encouraged his children’s artistic leanings from the first. Her brother, Herbert Lewis, designed the dust jacket and endpapers for her first work of prose, The Invasion (1931). She went to the same Oak Park high school as Hemingway, at the same time, and was friends with his sister Marcelline, who was in her French club. “So I heard a lot about Ernie,” she says now. She and Hemingway each have a poem in the January 1923 issue of Poetry.

The Lewises, like the Hemingways, had a summer place up in Michigan, in the Lewises’ case way up, on an island in the St. Mary’s River, midway between Mackinac and the Sault Ste. Marie. She includes three or four up-in-Michigan stories in the collection Goodbye, Son, stories which contrast interestingly with Hemingway’s Michigan stories. The emotional saw-teeth beneath the clear surface of Hemingway’s prose are not there in Janet Lewis, though, like as not, her stories are more overtly tragic than his. In stories such as “Proserpina,” “River,” and “Nell,” the local tragedies and misfortunes—a kindly drunk’s drowning, an appealing young woman self-thwarted—are ringed with a soft Midwestern melancholy closer in tone to Sherwood Anderson or Edgar Lee Masters than to the pre-existential edginess of Hemingway. The St. Mary’s River country she describes in The Invasion is that country unspoiled, as it was in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; but in his “Big Two-Hearted River” the same country is despoiled, the scarred terrain a natural metaphor for burnout. Janet Lewis had been happy in Michigan; she saw it as a fullness, whereas for Hemingway it seemed to accentuate the absences in life.

Another difference is that her interest in Michigan, once it went beyond the responses of an enraptured child on a summer outing, was historical. She made Ojibway friends, and was soon deep in the history of that much-disputed region: first Indian, then French, then British, then American, and always, after the French arrived, metis. The Invasion is an imaginative history of the founding Johnston family, a family in which Scotch-Irish and Indian blood soon mixed. It happened to be the family, too, into which the pioneering ethnographer Henry Schoolcraft married, a distant result of which was Hiawatha, Mr. Longfellow having depended more than a little on Henry Schoolcraft’s researches. Janet Lewis has always insisted that The Invasion is a “narrative,” not a novel; whatever one calls it, it is a confident, pungently written first book, with close attention paid to the densities, the shading, and the smells of the Northern forests and its peoples, at the time when the Americans first came to them.

That Janet Lewis, the woman, was less depressed than her schoolmate Ernest Hemingway is not to suggest that her work is Pollyanna-ish; the message of her major fiction is very dark indeed. She comes back again and again to the fate of honesty in a violent world. Her novels are tragedies, and this despite the fact that she was the product of a happy family, and, as a wife and mother, helped mold a happy family. The calm of her prose, and of the best of her verse, is a hard-won—indeed, a philosophic—calm. No one, saint or poet, could have lived through almost the entire twentieth century—or any century—and remained undisturbed. It is what she makes of her disturbances, as she struggles to keep her balance and do her duty, that is impressive. Not for nothing was the little magazine that she and her husband published for a single year in the late twenties called The Gyroscope: the instrument that spins and yet does not lose its balance.


HartCrane was awed by Yvor Winters’s learning—why, he could even read Portuguese!—and so impressed by his sensitivity to poetry that he allowed him to midwife The Bridge, rather as Pound had midwifed The Waste Land; and, though there was an ugly quarrel once Winters’s harsh, disappointed review of the finished poem came out, Crane had not been entirely wrong to trust Winters’s ear and his sensitivity. Yvor Winters from the first put the act of evaluation at the center of his critical practice. In The Armed Vision Stanley Edgar Hyman poked fun at some of Winters’s wilder overestimations—Elizabeth Baryush, Jones Very, Sturge Moore—but he still respected Winters’s force as a critic. This essay is about Janet Lewis, not Yvor Winters, but it is, I think, of interest that all Janet Lewis’s major fiction hinges on the difficulty of just and accurate evaluation, not merely in the law but in the mundane circumstances of everyday life, where the consequences of misevaluation are apt to be more destructive than they usually are in literary criticism. Something of the evaluative habits of the poet-critic husband soaked deep into the creative practices of the poet-novelist wife.

The Winterses were not wealthy; professors were not then superstars. Janet Lewis wanted to write fiction for magazines that paid money, so as to add her tiny bit to the family coffers. But she was not by nature a good plotter, and was only now and then able to sell something to the slicks. Sometime in the Thirties Yvor Winters was lent an old law book, a nineteenth-century compilation of famous cases of circumstantial evidence. At some point Winters handed the book to his wife, thinking there might be something in it that would help her with her plots.

Did it ever! Though not quickly. At first she merely took notes and reflected, but the notes sprouted and in time she produced the three novels of her maturity: The Wife of Martin Guerre (1941), The Trial of Sören Qvist (1947), and The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron (1959). Though it is not likely that the family finances were much affected, Janet Lewis did learn to plot. She tells three stories in which the fate of honest people depends on their ability or inability to correctly evaluate the confusing body of evidence that life presents us as we go rushing through it. In all three cases it is the human, not the judicial, misevaluation that makes the books so powerful.


Whoa, though. Despite the steady and loyal readership these three novels have won her, Janet Lewis thinks of herself mostly as a poet. Poetry is what she began with and what she still has now. She started with Imagism, the vogue of her youth, but she soon developed a less impersonal, more individual, and more complex poetic style. One would be foolish to try to guess where she’ll finish up, since so far she’s shown no inclination to finish at all. She has always looked closely, and with delight, at the natural world and has rendered it vividly both in verse and prose. Some of her poems have come from contemplation of her garden, or her goats, or just the morning light:

The path
The Spider makes through the air,
Until the light touches it.

The path
The light takes through the air, invisible,
Until it finds the spider’s web.

I won’t attempt to follow Janet Lewis through the many decades of adding and subtracting, winnowing and honing, that have boiled down to the poems in her most recent selection, but I would like to link in a brief way one set or sequence of poems to the prime concerns of her fiction, specifically her powerful desire for balance; she doesn’t want to be swept away, or altered in her nature, however violent or whatever the character of the storms that strike her. This need for balance doesn’t deny sentiment—she has plenty of that—but attempts to secure for sentiment its due dignity.2

In the interview mentioned earlier, she makes clear that the death of Yvor Winters was a devastating blow; for a time after it she wrote nothing. But she did go back to the desert, to the places of the pueblo peoples, the Hopi and Navajo, peoples who appear to live in harmony with the eternal simplicities: sun, stone, sky. She ponders a fossil:

In quiet dark transformed to stone,
Cell after cell to crystal grown,
The pattern stays, the substance gone….

And, in a museum in Tucson, contemplates—at first with envy—the mummy of a small Anasazi woman:

How, unconfused, she met the morning sun,
And the pure sky of night,
Knowing no land beyond the great horizons…

But later she learns of the massacre at Awatobi (1700), where defenders of the old gods wiped out a village that had accepted the new gods of the Spaniards; she realizes that the little woman may not have been spared confusion and terror after all:

Men of Awátobi,
Killed by men of the Three Mesas,
By arrow, by fire,
Betrayed, trapped in their own kivas.

The men of the Three Mesas,
In terror for the peace of the great kachinas
Who hold the world together,
Who hold creation in balance,
Took council, acted….

In bereavement Janet Lewis sought, even as she had in the happy Gyroscope years, the secret of things that move but are not changed:

The sunlight pours unshaken through the wind…

And she takes a poet’s delight in the fact that the Navajo, who simplify many things, cannot reduce water to one name:

Tsaile, Chinle,
Water flowing in, flowing out.

Slow water caught in a pool,
Caught in a gourd;
Water upon the lips, in the throat,
Falling upon long hair
Loosened in ceremony;
Fringes of rain sweeping darkly
From the dark side of a cloud,
Riding the air in sunlight,
Issuing cold from a rock,
Transparent as air, or darkened
With earth, bloodstained, grief-heavy;

In a country of no dew, snow
Softly piled, or stinging
in bitter wind…

The earth and the sky were constant,
But water,
How could they name it with one name?

In poetry Janet Lewis developed a singularity of voice over time, but in prose she was from the first strikingly confident. Here is the opening paragraph of The Invasion; we are on the plains of Abraham in 1759:

That September day the English appeared so suddenly that they seemed to have dropped from the sky; appeared, and fired. A warm rain fell now and again upon the troops, and the smoke from the rifles lay in long white streamers, dissipating slowly. The noise of the rifles, reflected from the running water and from the cliffs, was something like thunder, but the rain was too quiet. And running, for theFrench, had become almost more important than fighting. The head of Montcalm lay upon the breast of Ma-mongazid, the young Ojibway, the dark sorrowful face, with its war paint of vermilion and white, intent above the French face graying rapidly. Presently they took the Marquis to the hospital in St. Charles, where he died. Ma-mongazid with his warriors in thirty bark canoes returned to pointe Chegoimegon through the yellowing woods and increasing storms of autumn. The rule of the French was over, the province of Michilimackinac had become the Northwest Territory. The Ojibways called the English Saugaunosh, the Dropped-From-The-Clouds, and regretted the French.

With similar confidence she brings us to Jutland in the early seventeenth century, as she opens the story of the parson of Vejlby, Sören Qvist:

The inn lay in a hollow, the low hill, wooded with leafless beech trees, rising behind it in a gentle round just high enough to break the good draft from the inn chimneys, so that on this chill day the smoke rose a little and then fell downward. The air was clouded with dampness. It was late November, late in the afternoon, but no sunlight came from the west, and to the east the sky was walled with cloud where the cold fog thickened above the shores of Jutland. There was the smell of sea in the air even these few miles inland, but the foot traveler who had come upon sight of the inn had been so close to the sea for so many days now that he was unaware of the salty fragrance….

and to Gascony almost a century earlier, as she begins Martin Guerre:

One morning in January of 1539, a wedding was celebrated in the village of Artigues. That night the two children who had been espoused to one another lay in bed in the house of the groom’s father. They were Bertrande de Rols, aged eleven years, and Martin Guerre, who was no older, both offspring of rich peasant families as ancient, as feudal and as proud as any of the great seignorial houses of Gascony. The room was cold. Outside the snow lay thinly over the stony ground, or, gathered into long shallow drifts at the corners of the houses, left the earth bare. But higher it extended upward in great sheets and dunes, mantling the ridges and choking the wooded valleys, toward the peak of La Bacanère and the long ridge of Le Burat, and to the south, beyond the long valley of Luchon, the granite Maladetta stood sheathed in ice and snow….

The movement backward, into earlier centuries, which might inhibit many writers, seems to excite Janet Lewis and also to increase her assurance. When she comes into her own time, as she does in her one conventional novel of manners, Against a Darkening Sky (1943), set in Santa Clara County during the Depression, she is noticeably less confident. The heroine of that book is introduced to us as Mary Perrault, but is often thereafter called Mrs. Perrault, as if the author is not sure just how much intimacy she should assume with her main character.

In a way the three historical novels, all based on actual cases in the law, are legal briefs brought to life, the novelist being a prosecutor whose sympathies are nonetheless with the accused; and the accused, in all cases, become the condemned. There is nothing quite like these three books in our fiction; such echoes as there are are French, particularly Stendhal. All the central characters, whether Bertrande de Rols, or Pastor Soren, or the honest bookbinder Jean Larcher, are threatened by judicial confusion over circumstantial evidence, but the brilliance of the pattern is the way in which Janet Lewis shows that none of the three would ever have been in court in the first place had they themselves not made similar misjudgments when confronted with the rushing mass of circumstantial evidence in everyday life.

Perhaps the best example of such normal error occurs in The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron. Paul Damas, the apprentice bookbinder who has seduced his master’s wife, Marianne, loses a button from his shirt:

One day in midsummer, Paul and Marianne being alone in the bindery, Paul remarked that he had lost a button from his shirt, and Marianne offered to sew it on for him.

It seemed an innocent activity, especially in view of their relationship. She performed the task deftly and quickly, then looked about for her scissors to snip the thread. Not finding them, “Lend me your knife,” she said to Paul. “No, never mind,” and, bending toward him, she bit the thread. The action brought her head against his breast. Perhaps she held it there the fraction of a moment longer than was necessary. It seemed to Paul that she delayed the moment, for, looking over her head, he met the surprised gaze of his master. Jean had returned, with no undue quietness of step, with no intention of taking anyone unawares, but absorbed in themselves, neither Paul nor Marianne had heard the opening of the door or the advancing step. A rigidity in Paul warned Marianne of something amiss. She lifted her head, looked first at Paul, then followed his glance toward her husband.

Midday, midsummer, the air was warm and moist after a morning shower. Marianne had discarded her cap and fichu. Her arms were bare almost to the shoulder, as she had pushed back her sleeves. The air, the informality of the moment, the two figures standing like one in a rectangle of sunlight, all combined to give Jean an impression of what was in fact the truth. But the moment itself was innocent.

A sense of revelation rushed upon him, bringing to mind a hundred hitherto unquestioned gestures, poses, inflections. They were lovers, these two. He had taken his wife in adultery…. He stopped dead where he stood. Then the moment resolved itself naturally, without drama. Marianne came toward him, holding on the middle finger of the hand poised above her, her silver thimble….

“I mislaid my scissors,” she said. “I had to use my teeth.”

…Jean’s fear and knowledge turned about him and then leveled into an illusion. Nothing was wrong….

There you have the pregnant, and, in this case, fatal, error. Jean Larcher had read the action correctly, had seen the avidity in his wife’s face and in her bite; and yet he talks himself out of it. Had he held to his true perception and thrown his adulterous wife and treacherous apprentice out at this juncture, he would have saved himself torture and death. But he suborned his own sound judgment, in this case tragically.

The human tendency to dissuade oneself from accurate insight surfaces rather more complexly in the story of Sören Qvist, a good pastor at war with himself because of his uncontrollable angers. Pastor Sören has a real enemy, one Morten Bruus, who tricks him, but it is really the force of the Pastor’s faith-driven self-accusation that causes the trick to work: he convinces himself that he has killed Morten Bruus’s brother, though the brother, in fact, is not dead.

Reading the three novels in a line, from The Wife of Martin Guerre to The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron, is a powerful experience. Though all three were based on actual cases in the law, their power is literary not legal. In each story a son leaves home because of strife with the father, and returns too late to save the family. In each the ruin of an honest person is complete, and in each there is a fully and vividly realized woman who finds herself twisting helplessly in the dilemmas posed by love and duty. To each of these women—Bertrande de Rols, Anna Sörensdaughter, and Marianne Larcher—Janet Lewis might say what she says to the mummy of the Anasazi woman in Tucson, “my sister, my friend,” for she knows these women: their feelings, their gestures, their happiness, their changeability, and their stunned helplessness as they see doom approaching.

Anna Sörensdaughter has her happiness destroyed when the young judge she loves and is engaged to marry has to pass the sentence of death on her father. Bertrande de Rols must finally accuse the nice imposter who is kind to her because she can but for so long live a lie; she chooses truth over love and then is dismissed with perfect coldness when the real Martin Guerre comes back and discovers that she has dishonored him. Marianne Larcher is the weakest of the three women, so physically in thrall to the young apprentice that she will do anything for him; but she is no less appealing for being blindly dependent, even though it results in her good husband being condemned. The last words of the Martin Guerre story might serve as ending for all these novels:

Of Martin Guerre no more is recorded, whether he returned to the wars or remained in Artigues, nor is there further record of Bertrande de Rols, his wife. But when love and hate have together exhausted the soul, the body seldom endures for long.

In the old law book her husband lent her, Janet Lewis discerned a great theme: the limitations of human judgment, not merely between judge and accused but between husband and wife, father and son, king and counselor (for it was a little burlesque in the manner of the late Monsieur Scarron, insulting Madame de Maintenon, that resulted in the execution of the honest bookbinder). She discerned it and, for a span of some twenty years in her long life, had the intelligence, the persistence, and the force to be equal to it.

Auden reminded us definitively that it’s language Time worships:not wisdom or innocence or physical beauty or, I would add, length of life. Janet Lewis has indeed lived a long time, but what is important is that all through that long time she has continued to tell the stories that have meant something to her in a manner all her own, and with a distinction of language that will carry them forward to startle and delight readers yet to come.


Though I was at Stanford in 1960 I failed to meet Janet Lewis. Now and then I would see her husband proceeding in Johnsonian fashion through the college, often with a Boswell or two tugging at his sleeves, but, at the time, it was her work that excited me, an excitement that came back with its old force when I reread her recently.

So I ventured a letter and, to my delight, she promptly called me in Texas and invited me to dinner on Valentine’s Day of this year. She didn’t sound like the grandmother of fiction, either, when she called; she just sounded like a well-spoken woman who was curious about what a writer from Texas would make of her work.

I arrived at her home in Los Altos hand in hand with El Niño; the abundant vegetation that must once have enticed her goats dripped from every leaf and stem. I felt like the person who was going to meet the person who had once seen Shelley plain—Shelley in this case being Hart Crane, who had visited the Winterses at Christmas in 1927. Janet, still convalescent, gave him tea in her bedroom, which, at the time, she was rarely allowed to leave. “Oh yes,” she said, when I mentioned that tea. “He was very polite.” Despite the breach that occurred over her husband’s review of The Bridge, the Winterses were both deeply grieved when Hart Crane killed himself by jumping off the boat.

Janet too is very polite, but she’s neither fussy nor chilly. She’s lived in that smallish but cheerful house for sixty-four years and is thoroughly the mistress of it; there she raised her family, there she watched war come and war be over, there she entertained generations of poets, artists, musicians, and even the occasional lepidopterist such as Vladimir Nabokov, who showed up at her door with his butterfly net one day in 1941. The Nabokovs and the Winterses hit it off; the exiles came often for meals. I had heard that Nabokov enjoyed himself so much in her kitchen that he sometimes helped her wash up; when Iasked her about this she chuckled and said, “Why, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had.”

I had hardly said hello when we were off through the streaming backyard to the small, detached study where she and Yvor Winters did their writing; an old Royal typewriter sits as a reminder of those days. On the walls, casually tacked up, were photographs of a number of noble Airedales and several slightly less noble poets, one or two of them so obscure that neither of us could quite puzzle out who they might be. A sketch of Pound was by one window; a lovely photograph of Janet as a young woman hung from a nail. Janet remarked that the goats came into her life at a time when she was too weak to write but liked to sketch; Yvor Winters went down the road and bought a couple of goats, so his wife could have something to sketch besides Airedales.

Later, two gifted men friends turned up and cooked a delicious meal, which we ate at the small table in her kitchen. Once, on the audiotape, when a young interviewer was asking her how she got the details right in her historical fiction, Janet talked for a bit about looking at Breughel and reading lots of histories, but then she dropped from the highfalutin’ and merely said, “I’ve always liked kitchens”; it is as if she is saying that from her own bright kitchen, where Vladimir Nabokov once wielded a dish towel, she can imagine all kitchens, as her fiction—filled with kitchens—demonstrates.

In the company of most people who are brushing a century, ignoring their age requires conscious effort; but when Janet Lewis is discussing a book or remembering a visit or a trip, or describing northern Michigan as it was in her girlhood, remembering that she’s elderly is what takes the conscious effort. Perhaps the fact that her sickness was so nearly mortal, that she lived for five years of her young womanhood with death as a near-neighbor, has left her unimpressed that it’s in the neighborhood still. Though she is reasonably cautious, and is attended by squadrons of friends, who do their attending for the rich reward of her company, there is also a slightly mischievous, slightly devil-may-care, I’ll-go-when-I’m-good-and-ready air about her. It’s as if that terribly early struggle has bought her a little exemption, and she knows it, and she means to enjoy her privileges to the full.

The four of us finished the meal very companionably, had dessert, had more tea. Janet probed around in a bookcase and found an essay on her poetry that she thought I might like to read. I took it and wandered back to my motel on the Camino, thrilled. A great lady of American letters had—for the space of an evening—been my valentine.

This Issue

June 11, 1998