Monday, March 08, 2010

Prime Passage: The Uneasy Chair - A Biography of Bernard DeVoto (1974)

"Much of the light, as well as some of the incidental heat, came from his maverick unwillingness to run with the herd -- any herd -- or to accept the standard varieties of intellectual fashion that his times offered him. 'There are no new ways to be new,' his father and adversary Robert Frost used to remark. As with so many of Frost's wisdoms, that was something DeVoto knew without being told. He had chosen not to be new but to be himself, not to be in but to be at liberty, with consequences to his reputation, both during his life and since, that have been more damaging than otherwise. The man who walks by himself has no gang or coterie, and in the profession of words it is coteries that more often than not determine reputations, at least in the short run." (p.364)