7-year old Richard Rorty served little sandwiches to Whittaker Chambers

by John Holbo on August 25, 2006

No kidding. Says so in Achieving Our Country [amazon].

As a teen-ager, I believed every anti-Stalinist word that Sidney Hook and Lionel Trilling published in Partisan Review – partly, perhaps, because I had been bounced on their knees as a baby. My mother used to tell me, with great pride, that when I was seven I had had the honor of serving little sandwiches to the guests at a Halloween party attended both by John Dewey and by Carlo Tresca, the Italian anarachist leader who was assassinated a few years later. That same party, I have since discovered, was attended not only by the Hooks and the Trillings, but by Whittaker Chambers. Chambers had just broken with the Communist Party and was desperately afraid of being liquidated by Stalin’s hit men. Another guest was Suzanne La Follette, to whom Dewey had entrusted the files of the Commission of Inquiry into the Moscow Trials. These files disappeared when her apartment was burgled, presumably by Soviet agents. (p. 61)

So I guess I no longer find it strange, relatively speaking, that Hegel and Schelling and Hölderlin were roommates. (I’ve really got to read The Sociology of Philosophies, which people have been insistently recommending to me [amazon].)

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!jentery! » Samuel Beckett Used to Drive Andre the Giant to School?
08.25.06 at 2:17 pm



Matt 08.25.06 at 12:13 pm

And Richard Posner apparently had some of his toys taken away and given to the orphaned children of the Rosenbergs. Weird world.


joe o 08.25.06 at 12:50 pm


will u. 08.25.06 at 1:01 pm

joe o. just blew my mind.


John Holbo 08.25.06 at 1:29 pm

Dude yes. Is that true? I clicked the link. The source is a Rob Reiner audio track to the Princess Bride. Could Reiner have been just making up nonsense.


Steve LaBonne 08.25.06 at 1:41 pm

Wellll, for starters you’d have to believe that he couldn’t fit into a schoolbus but could fit into a 2CV…


blah 08.25.06 at 2:01 pm

It has been reported that during production of “The Princess Bride,” Andre the Giant told stories about how Samuel Beckett used to pick him up when he would hitchhike. The most credible thing about this story is that Andre apparently reported that they would talk about cricket (Beckett is the only person in history to be both a Nobel Laureate and be enshrined in the equivalent of the cricket hall of fame).



Henry 08.25.06 at 2:06 pm

My copy of James Knowlson’s Beckett biography has nothing on this, but then it wouldn’t, would it.


airth10 08.25.06 at 2:43 pm

I found “The Sociology of Philosophies” awkward to read, a book that was recommended to John Holbo. I tried many times to enjoy it but couldn’t. The title, though, is intriguing.


Brian 08.25.06 at 6:15 pm

Well Samuel Beckett did play a little cricket, but he’s a long way from being a hall of famer, or anything like it. Here’s his Cricinfo stats page.

Still, I never knew he’d even played first-class cricket, or that Dublin University was at one stage a first-class team, and I suspect any first-class cricketer would be happy to talk cricket. Especially with Andre the Giant.


vivian 08.25.06 at 10:23 pm

So, should we reimagine Godot on a cricket pitch?


John Emerson 08.25.06 at 11:00 pm

Is it being claimed that Wikipedia and Rob Reiner are not entirely reliable sources? This claim seems terribly far-fetched.


John Emerson 08.26.06 at 12:02 am

Someone who knows about cricket should analyze Beckett’s cricket career. He seems to be part of an elite but not top group, rather like a ML baseball pitcher who’s had a couple no-hitters.


Jason 08.26.06 at 8:16 am

I forget the essay, but Rorty has written similar words long ago. I think it was a compilation of humanist essays put together by Paul Kurtz (Rorty titled it something like “Trotsky and Orchids”). Heh, he also accused Noam Chomsky of postmodernism.


harry b 08.26.06 at 10:21 am

Rorty makes an error somewhere close to the passage you quote, which I could document if I could be bothered, in referring to the “Schactmanite Socialist Workers Party”, when he must have meant the “Schactmanite Workers Party”. So his memory is not absolutely perfect.

I’m surprised no-one has raised this yet…..


Scott McLemee 08.27.06 at 5:18 am

Actually that would be “Shachtmanite” (not “Schactmanite”). The Wikipedia article on Shachtmanism is accurate, as of right this minute anyway.


harry b 08.27.06 at 8:44 am

Except that the spelling varies (in the wiki article). My spelling is lousy, and my typing wosre, but consisteneelty so.

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