THE MICHIGAN DAILY LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
SUNDAY, MAY 2, 1948
SUNDAY, MAY 2, 1948
THE MICHIGAN DAILY LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
VACUUM-PACKED: THE CRITICS ...
THE PARTNERS .. .
By Prof. Norman E. Nelson
By Mack Woodruff
EDITOR'S NOTE: Norman E. Nel-
son, is an associate professor in the
English Department of the Univer-
sity. Prof. Nelson, who teaches sev-
eral courses in literary criticism, was
The Daily's correspondent at the
Critic's Symposium in Baltimore.
THE FIRST international Sym-
posium on literary criticism
to be held in the United States
took place in Baltimore in mid-
April. Around us in the Museum
of Arts were a number of con-
temporary paintings, European
and American; outside, the early
Baltimore spring was in full leaf
and blossom on the Johns Hop-
kins campus where there is still
some room for things to grow.
Of the five or six hundredat-
tending the conference some may
have come to escape the bleak
North and get a pre-view of
Spring, but, once there, the con-
tagious excitement of the dis-
cussions, and a rather chill driz-
zle outside kept the attendance
so high that the generous accom-
modations for the gathering had
to be stretched to the limits of
the Fire-Marshal's tolerance.
Since everyone seemed to agree
that the conference was success-
ful enough to warrant repetition,
perhaps even annually, there can
be nothing invidious in my not-
ing omissions and imperfections
which may be remedied in future
meetings. Some disappointments
are inevitable in any attempt to
call distinguished men together.
Of the Europeans invited Bene--
detto Croce, Andre Gide, and
Ernst Surtius could not attend,
though Croce's paper was read
and discussed. And several first
rate American critics were unable
to be present. Yvor Winters, Ed-
mund Wilson, a n d Kenneth
Burke must especially be sought
for future meetings. Few colleges
were represented except for those
clustered about Baltimore and
Washington. However, when the
papers and discussion are pub-
lished, prestuhably by, 'this De-
cember, College groups will real-
ize that they cannot afford to
miss such lively and brilliant dis-
A more perplexing problem is
that of representing adequately
the divergent points of view -
of bringing out the full range of
critical opinion. I, personally, was
unhappy because the Marxists
were not there. It may be that I
was expecting too much of south-
ern hospitality or of leftist be-
havior, but it might at least be
arranged that such conferences
include critics with strong social
orientation. The scientific and
the semagiiological approach to
critical theory should be given
an opportunity. Neo-Thomists
and Aristotelians of the true
Chicago breed were also missing
or silent. The absence of Yvor
Winters meant not only the loss
of a vigorous personality but of
the best possible representative qf
the humanists. The chief link
with our American past was the
presence of Mr. H. L. Mencken
but only in a convival capacity.
In fact the conference was,
partly by accident, somewhat
narrow in its critical outlook.
Although Herbert Read the un-
abashed romanticist was the
strongest personality, the pro-
gram was in numbers dominated
by our once "New" critics of the
southern group, John Crowe
Ransom, Allen Tate, and R. P.
Blackmur who are commonly,
and I think inaccurately, regard-
ed as classicists, anti-romanti-
cists, or formalists. This group
can best be identified by its al-
legiance to T. S. Eliot whose
name they spoke with reverence;
they are no more classical, no less
romantic than he.
Such limitations in attendance
and restriction in point of view
may be remedied by having more
meetings and by moving the con-
ference around to other regions.
On the whole as much was gain-
ed in concentration at this meet-
ing as was lost in breadth. My
deepest impressions, somewhat
tinged with disappointment, were
concerned with three predica-
ments: the remoteness of the
conference from the life outside
its doors, the growing awareniess
of our "New" critics that they
are continuing the romantic tra-
dition, the subjectivity of the
creative and critical experience
from which they seemed unable
to escape. To an orthodox Aris-
totelian like myself these three
predicaments are interrelated.
It was perhaps a lucky thing
that no man from the street wan-
dered into those holy halls and
paid his six dollars to find out
how the conference would ful-
fill its publicized intention "to
contribute to clarity of thought
in times of upheaval," "to help
find the treads of truth which we
in 'the'humanities can tie to-
gether as our contribution to-
ward a better world." I am afraid
that the man in the street would
have been puzzled and possibly
rude. For the literature they were
concerned with was Symbolist, or
symbolically interpreted. Ran-
som's theory of the poem as con-
veying an individual rather than
universal meaning, Blackmur's
and Tate's reliance on symbolism
as the poets mode of expressing
ideas, Read's belief in subcon-
scious recognition of symbols: all
these views support a poetry of
hidden meaning, of tremendous
trifles, of nuances,-the travel
journals of men exploring the
distant places in their souls. The'
difficulties of communication
were minimized by these experts
in elucidation; they acknow-
ledged cheerfully that the poet's
symbols might occasionally be
private, but held that that was
inevitable in any profound ex-
pression. A reader with sufficient
sensibility can find a coherent
and valuable meaning in Wallace
Stevens' Emperor of Ice Cream
even if he does not guess that
Stevens is describing his little
daughter's r a p t u r o u s first
acquaintance with the ice cream
vendor. The poet should not
be expected to tell us this simple
fact, for the integrity of his vis-
ion must not be compromised by
the coarseness of c o m m o n
language. Without denying the
excellence even the greatness of
some symbolist poetry one can
understand the disappointment
of the man in the street.
T HE NEW CRITICS have been
steadily discovering over the
past few years an appreciation for
the romantic poets whom they
once habitually damned. The
metaphysical and epistemological
doctrines underlying the literary
theory of these men are clear-
romantic rather than classica..
They are Aristotelians only in a
Pickwickian sense. Although loy-
ally opposed to scientific mate-
rialism or positivism their alterna-
tive is not Aristotelian but mod-
ern. Ransom is avowedly a prag-
matist and Blackmur finds some
what to his surprise that White-
head's metaphysics of organic
continuity and creative change
offers a better matrix for his liu-
eraz.y theory, and his poetry, than.
(Continued on Page 6)
THE REPORT ON HIGHER EDUCATION
A Summary of Major Points
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Commission
on Higher Education was appointed
by President Truman in July 1946 to
reexamine our system of higher ed-
ucation in terms of its objective,
methods, and facilities . in the
light of the social role it has to
play." This article is not intended as
a completerresume ofrtherCommis-
sions report, but is rather an at-
tempt to present those findings of
immediate interest to university
By ROBERT C. WHITE
Expansion-this must be the
watchword of American Educa-
tion," "not just in the distant fu-
ture, but in the days immediately
Post-war education's problem is
great and the solution complex,
but this singleword describes the
obligation set down by the 29 ed-
ucational and civic leaders who
make up the President's Commis-
sion on Higher Education.
The problem-realized by many
educators even before the war-
is one of Inadequacy. An unprece-
dented number of young Ameri-
cans have sought to enter the na-
tion's colleges and universities.
And in concurrence with this rise
in enrollment, there exists what
the commission calls "an increas-
ingly critical need for (higher)
And the solution-Expansion-
is not only physical: it entails a
similar broadening of the very
elements of education.
iThe Problem Posed
Four conditions have contribut-
ed to the problem faced by Ameri-
1-". . . the increasing com-
plexity that technological progress
has brought to our society has
made a broader understanding of
social processes and problems es-
sential for effective living."
2-There is an unprecedented
need for unity among the nation's
"contrasting regions . . . diverse
faiths, divergent cultural back-
grounds, and varied interests"-
the problem of creating "a dyn-
3-"The need for maintaining
our democracy at peace with the
.rest of the world has compelled
our initiative in the formation of
the United Nations, and America's
role in this and other agencies of
international coperation requires
of our citizens a knowledge of
other peoples-of their political
and economic systems, their so-
vial and cultural institutions..."
4-The Atomic Age, "with its
ambivalent promise of tremend-
ous good or tremendous evil for
mankind, has intensified the un-
certainties of the future. It has
deepened and broadened the res-
ponsibilities of higher education
for . . . preparing for the social
and economic changes that will
come with the application of at-
omic energy to industrial uses."
To overcome these conditions,
tie Commission ultimately select-
ed three goals to which education
should immediately aspire:
1-"Education for a fuller real-
ization of democracy in every,
phase of living."
2-"Education directly and ex-
plicitly for international under-
standing and cooperation."
3-"Education for the applica-
tion of creative imagination and
trained intelligence in the solu-
tion of social problems and to the
administration of public affairs."
Living Our Democracy
What were the issues in living
To begin with, America must
demonstrate to the world that our
democracy is that form of govern-
ment "which best serves the needs
and promotes the welfare of the
And of direct importance to the
nation's schools was the Commis-
sion's declaration that youth'must
be educated for democratic living
not only in the classroom, but "in
every phase of campus life." Nor
can the instruction, be left "to
some courses of a few departments
or scattered extracurricular or-
ganizations; it must become a part
of every phase of college life."
In short, the Commission said,
"Teaching and learning must be
invested with public purpose."
It is equally important, the
Commission added, that "the eth-
ical values and the concept of hu-
man relations upon which our
political system rests" be under-
stood in order that we may not
"cling to the letter of democracy
and lose its spirit."
Finally, education was charged
by the Commission with the obli-
gation of allowing students to
gain practical experience in the
processes of democracy while they
are in residence:
"Young people," the report de-
clares, "cannot be expected to de- and mechanical aptitude and in-
velop as firm an allegiance to the genuity."
democratic faith they are taught But the most "outstanding ex-
in the classroom if their campus ample of these barriers to equal
life is carried on in an authorit- opportunity . . . is the disadvan-
arian atmosphere." tages suffered by our Negro citi-
For International Under- zens.
Education's responsibilities in
the promotion of international
understanding and cooperation
were made equally explicit:
Studies should be made of the
nature and development of other
civilizations and cultures, of na-
tionalisms relation to internation-
alism, the factors which lead to
war, the new technologies, the or-
ganizations which can work to-
ward peaceful solution of common
"Modern man needs to sense the
sweep of world history," the re-
port declares, "in order to see his
own civilization in the context of
To Solve Social Problems
In viewing education's role in
the solution of social problems,
the Commission saw the need for
bringing "our social skills quickly
abreast of our skills in natural
"The colleges and universities,
the philanthropic foundations,
and the Federal Government," the
report pointed out, "should not be
tempted by the prestige of natural
science and its immediately tang-
ible results into giving it a dispro-
portionate emphasis in research
budgets or in teaching programs."
The Commission found that in
spite of record growth in Ameri-
can educational institutions, there
remain many barriers to equality
of educational opportunity: for
many potential students there are
economic barriers, others spring
from "backward" regions of the
The third educational barrier
cited by the report is less famil-
iar. Many worthy young people
are being denied a higher educa-
tion because they are deficient in
the generally accepted criteria for
college entrance: namely, verbal
skills and intellectual. interests.
The Commission calls attention
to other important skills: "social
sensitivity and versatility, artistic
ability, motor skill and dexterity,
"The low educational attain-
ments of Negro adults reflect the
cumulative effect of a long period
of unequal opportunity."
The Commission refers specifi-
cally to two methods of educa-1
First, under a Supreme Court
ruling, States are able to practice
a kind of discrimination through
providing "substantially equal ad-
vantages for Negroes." But, the
Commission declares, "the schools
maintained for Negroes are com-
monly much inferior to those for
whites." Furthermore, "to main-
tain two school systems side by
side . . . means that neither can
be of the quality that would be
possible if all the available re-
sources were devoted to one sys-
tem, especially not when the States
least able financially to support
an adequate educational program
for their youth are the very ones
that are trying to carry a double
A second kind of discrimination
is found in the commonly prac-
ticed "Quota System"-a mean of
admission to professional schools
"under which the chance to learn,
and thereby so become more use-
ful citizens, is denied to certain
minorities, particularly to Negroes
And the report concludes, "the
quota system cannot be justified
on any grounds compatible with
Not only should colleges end
discriminatory methods in admis-
sion of students, the Commission
declared but should also "offer an
experience in tolerance and und-
erstanding which grows out of
democratic relations with stud-
ents from various national and
"Colleges should become labora-
tories of inter-race and interfaith
"Each institution should con-
scientiously plan and prosecute a
well organized program to. .,. eli-
minmate discrimination, only cor-
recting its policies and practices,
but also be educating its students
to seek the abolition of discrimin-
a tory practices in all their man-
So important did these matters
appear to the President's Com-
mission that the group concluded
"that to assure a universal and
equal regard for a policy of non-
discrimination the legal method
becomes fair and practical."
In summary, the Commission
held that "the only defensible bas-
is is that total ability and inter-
est-rather than quotas or ratios,
however determined-be the cri-
terion of admission to institutions
of higher learning.
'The Commission, therefore,
recommends," the report contin-
ues, 'the removal from application
forms of all questions pertaining
to religion, color, and national or
(The Commissroi1 pointed out
that much of the responsibility for
present practices on the part of
medical and dental schools must
go to professional associations
which 'tremendously influence the
admissions policy of individual in-
Of special interest on the Mich-
igan campus will be the Commis-
sion's opinion on another arbi-
trary limitation" on enrollment-
an increased tuition differential in
favor of resident students.
'In the interst of a desirable
mobility and regional interchange
of' college students, it is earnestly
to be hoped that . . . institutions
will remove barriers as rapidly as
possible to out-of-State enroll-
Other suggested means of re-
ducing education barriers includ-
ed: more realistic consideration or
high-school curricula variations,
more efficient educational-plann-
ing guidance inx the high schools,
more complete federal and private
aid to eligible students.
Included among the Commis-
sion's suggestions for the more ef-
fective working of college faculty
members, was the following:
'A prime essential of a free so-
ciety is academic freedom. With-
out it there can be no real pro-
fession of teaching or research:-
rfIHERE WAS quite a stir after
Zeb and me got back to the Big
House. Grandpa and Johnny were
standing on the porch when we
rode in. Grandpa's face was red
and swoll-up-the way it always
gets when he's mad proper, and
my brother was sitting on the
porch rail with his hands in his
"Where you been to, Runt?"
Grandpa spoke so soft I could
scarce hear him. I was in for a
tanning sure. If Grandpa shouts
first off, he gets over his mad
quick, but when he talks soft
there's nothing can settle him
'cepting a good tanning. I got my
knees tight against Old Zaba, the
burro, and held the reins hard as
might, keeping my head bent
"Get your head up, boy! Look at
me when I'm talkin' to you. I ask-
ed where you been to."
"We just been ridin' out," I said.
I was scared plenty. "Me an' Zeb's
just been ridin' out."
"So you just been ridin' out,
have you?" said Grandpa, his
voice louder. "Well, Mr. Big. So
you just go ridin' out now, eh? be-
fore sunup, without so much as a
by your leave. Is that the way
things are, Mr. Big Britches? All
of a sudden you're a man grown,
My face felt beet-hot. I looked
at Old Zaba's back and didn't say
"What's all the fuss?" I heard
Zeb say, half-laughing. He was
sitting up on his big roan, bigger
than Grandpa's mare even.
Grandpa swung around facing
him. "Reckon I got a few things to
say to you, too, Mister," Grandpa
Zeb's head jerked a little. He
looked at Grandpa and for a sec-
ond I thought he'd answer back.
Then Johnny got up from the
porch rail. He put his hand on
grandpa's arm and told him to
calm down and remember who he
was talking to. I breathed easier.
I figured if anyone could get me
out of a tanning, it was my broth-
"You skin on out of here now,
Runt," Johnny said. "I'll tend to
Grandpa snorted and went back
in the big house. I skinned proper.
I slid off old Zaba and spanged
around the corner of the porch. I
came down here to the corall and
hid in the saddle room. It'll be a
spell before grandpa sheds his
mad, but maybe if I stay here
long enough I'll get off easy. I
shouldn't have took Johnny's bur-
ro, but when I saw Zeb ride out,
headin' for the Witch I had to go
too. I got the tanning comin', I
guess, but it's time grandpa and
Johnny leave me be a man like
Zeb does. It's worth it, though,
havin' the secret with Zeb. I'd do
it again, all right, because even
grandpa says it's fittin' for part-
ners to have a man-grown secret
My brother Johnny is the best
trapper on the Raigon range.
From hearing grandpa talk there
ain't any other trapper 'cepting
Johnny. That's how good grandpa
thinks he is, and he ought to
know. He's big and loose-looking,
Johnny is, and moves slow. He
isn't really slow, though. I saw
him skivver a rattler with a pitch-
fork, once,. down by the barn so
fast it was all over 'fore I even
knew the snake was there. That's
how fast Johnny really is.
Johnny goes out trapping in
early fall when the leaves have
scarce turned and comes back in
the middle of spring. After he's
done tradin' his furs in The Forks
he stays with us at the Big House
all summer helping grandpa with
the chores. We have good times
Johnny and me.
Started yesterday (why I'm
gettin' the tanning late afternoon,
when Johnny came back home ov-
er the pass with the stranger.
Folks in The, Forks don't trust
strangers much. I've seen that.
They don't ask no questions, just
wait around for the stranger to
make the first move. Grandpa
calls it holdin' judgment, and I
when Johnny and the stranger
could see that's what he was doing
came to the Big House.
The stranger and Grandpa.
shook hands. Johnny told Grand-
pa the stranger was his partner.
Grandpa blinked then nodded his
head. He kept shut, but I could
see he didn't like it much. To
Grandpa and me and Johnny, too,
I thought, partner means even
more than friend. Then Johnny
said the stranger'd saved his life.
I guess right there is where the
stranger stopped bein' a stranger
and became Zeb.
Grandpa got to smilin' and
shook Zeb's hand again. I hung a
bit aways until Johnny saw me.
He started as if to pick me up. I
stepped back a pace but he picked
me up anyway, laughin' at me like
he always does. Then he said,
"Zeb. This here's the runt. My
He wasn't goin' to pick me up,
too. Nosiree Bob he wasn't. A big
smile came all over Zeb's face. He
bent over some and held out his
hand. "Howdy, Mr. Runt."
I'd never shook hands before.
Folks always pick me up or rough
my hair but I'd never shook hauds.
"Howdy, Mr. Zeb," I said. I was
so proud and surprised I guess it
showed some. Anyway Grandpa
laughed and I pulled my hand
away and ran. I could hear Grand-
pa and Johnny laughing.
But not Zeb. I don't reckon he
AFTER supper -last night Zeb
went out on the porch. Grand-
pa and Johnny were still talking
inside so I went on out, too. Zeb
had his chair tilted back and his
legs propped up on the porch rail.
He was lookin' at the Witch. I put
my hands in my pockets and walk-
ed over next to him.
"Howdy Mr. Zeb," I said.
He looked up quick and grinned.
"Well, howdy Mr. Runt."
We shook hands again.
"Was the Grizzley honest as big
as Johnny says?"
Zeb nodded. "Bigger," he said.
I hoped he wasn't funnin' me.
"Just how big was he, Zeb?"
Zeb stood and reached up his
hand. His fingers bare touched the
top of the porch. Even Johnny had
to jump some to do that.
"That high, Runt," Zeb said. He
stretched his arms wide as they'd
go and hunched his shoulders.
"And wide as this-snarlin.' And
your brother there like a midget
to him, knife in his hand and
smilin' some. All ready to fight
proper, your brother was."
I swallowed. Zeb smiled and sat
I haunched up on the railing.
"I guess Johnny'd a done for that
bear all right even if you hadn't
been there with the gun-not that
it wasn't good shootin'," I said
"Sure, Runt. Reckon he would
at that," Zeb said.
Zeb leaned back further still in
the chair and kept looking across
the grassland toward the Witch.
"That's the Witch," I told him.
"That sliver rock. That's the
Witch. Least that's what Old
Cable calls it. There's witchy-
wolves on top, and bats bigger'n a
"Who's Old Cable?"
Zeb seemed kind of interested
right off. It was a good feelin' to
talk man-fashion with someone
like Zeb. I told him Old Cable's
the crazyman in The Forks who
tells haunt stories about the
Witch-says there's witchywolves
and bats and spoutin' holes on
"But he don't talk so much any-
more," I said, "since my brother
clumb it. Johnny says there's
nothin' on top 'cepting a good
view and a high wind. Old Cable
don't talk much now, you can
"So Johnny climbed it?" Zeb
was real interested.
"Yessir. Clear to the top he did.
Slippin' and pullin' all the way.
Lots of men from The Forks have
tried but Johnny's the only one
got clear up." I felt proud to talk
to Zeb about Johnny.
It had got so dark I couldn't see
the Witch ,at all anymore, but Zeb
was still staring.
"How'd he do it?" Zeb asked.
"He went up the South face.
Everybody from The Forks went
out to watch, makin' bets and all."
I told Zeb how Sam Deakins and
Eziah Graves, who'd both broke
bones trying to climb the Witch
had bet near all their money
against Johnny. They said he'd
only get what they got or worse-
like Billy Trumbo who got kilt.
They laughed plenty 'til Grandpa
shut 'em up.
Zeb was wachin' me, listening to
"Old Cable was there, too," I
said, "jumpin' around and mumb-
ling. Folks said he was castin'
spells. There's six ledges, and ev-
"Nobody could do what Johnny
done," I said.
T WAS still dark this morning
when I heard the noise in the
corall. I spanged out of bed to
look and there was Zeb, saddled
up, leading the roan out the drop
gate. First I thought he was leav-
ing and was going to holler, but
when he got in the saddle he
swung straight South. There was
nothing that way 'cepting the
grassland-and the Witch.
I remembered Zeb and me talk-
ing last night.
I got my clothes on and snuck
out to the corall. I put a bridle on
old Zaba and rode out bareback
into the deep grass. Zeb was al-
most to the sliver rock time I
caught up to him.
--Leo T eholi-z
ery ledge Johnny sat and rested
up. Then he'd go on. Took him
near three hours to get clear up."
I waited for Zeb to say some-
thing but he didn't. I couldn't see
him so good, but I could hear him
"Up above the last ledge-that's
where its hardest. There's nothin'
to hang onto, Johnny says. That's
why he fell."
"Yup," I said. "There's about
twenty-five feet from the last
ledge to the top. Johnny'd got
fifteen feet up when he stopped.
He hung there a long time trying
to grab onto something. Then he
slipped. The women screamed
thinkin' he'd come all the way
down, but Johnny hit the ledge.
Everybody started hollering give
it up, come on down, but Johnny
went back again way to the top."
"Johnny must be a pretty big
man around these parts, eh
Runt?" Zeb's voice sounded diff-
"None bigger, I reckon," I said-
burstin'. "Grandpa said Johnny
was three parts fly and one part
I wanted to tell Zeb how I felt
seeing Johnny standin' up on top
of the Witch wavin' his arms. Just
a speck sort of with nothin' above
him 'cepting the sky. Don't guess
I can say things like that so good.
Then I heard Johnny and
Grandpa-coming out on the porch.
Zeb saw me when it got light
enough and waited. "Go on home,
Runt," he shouted soon as I got
close enough to hear. Grandpa
says the range don't belong to
anyone 'till they fence it off. "I'm
stayin'," I hollered back-"I reck-
on.' I was scared though when I
saw how dark lookin' Zeb was. I
pulled Old Zaba up about twenty
feet away. Zeb glared at me for
a minute, then he smiled.
"All right, Runt," he said.
"Come on." He began riding again.
I prodded Old Zaba up alongside.
"You going to climb the Witch?"
I asked. I was plenty excited rid-
ing with Zeb.
Zeb looked at me sidewise.
"What makes you think that,
Runt? I'm jus ridin' out, that's
all. Just ridin' out."
We rode 'til we were right under
the Witch's North wall, then Zeb
swung away East.
"Anyhow, Runt," Zeb said sud-
den-"You said nobody could
climb it 'cept Johnny."
"Don't guess nobody could," I
said. I didn't look at Zeb. We rode
around to the South wall. Then I
"There's where Johnny climbed.
See the ledges? Right up there."
Zeb pulled up and we looked at
the wall. Then he got down off
the roan and handed me his reins.
"You going to climb it Zeb? Are
you?" I jumped off Old Zaba and
looked up at him.
Zeb had a look on his face and
,. y y
- _ ' ".
A 9 .' ? --