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Joseph Epstein’s Three Minutes of Fame…

… are ticking away as we speak, so UD will be quick about this: She knew him rather well at Northwestern University in the ‘seventies. He thought highly of wee UD‘s writing, and indeed was so insistent that she launch a career just like his — freelance person of letters – that he became quite annoyed when UD decided to go to graduate school in English. He seems to have felt betrayed.

I mean, it was all a kind of compliment, and I remember genially taking it as such, even though Epstein was ungenial in his interactions with my twentyish self.

He condescended. I didn’t take it personally, since he (along with his buddy Erich Heller) was, with virtually everyone, snippy and snobby.

Huge numbers of years on, Epstein has gone and been snobby with Jill Biden — though, curiously, back in 2016, he attacked other snobs for being snobby in regard to Sarah Palin, whose cultural superiority he indignantly defended. Same unfortunate background as Biden – public universities, degrees in girl fields – but as the running mate of Epstein’s presidential choice, Palin would somehow have to be pedigreed; whereas, given Biden’s political connections, she’d need to be a mutt. Sarah Palin abundantly deserved the title Vice President, but Jill Biden doesn’t even deserve “Dr.,” and would do better to content herself with There There Little First Lady.

Not much to see here, in other words. By the time they’re in their eighties, most people – especially if they’re cranks – have long been ignored by the world. Joseph Epstein is to be commended for having kept his name on the page, even unto the final petulance. Good boy.



The [NU] Department [of English] is aware that a former adjunct lecturer who has not taught here in nearly 20 years has published an opinion piece

They don’t even name him. (For good measure, his faculty page has been removed from the university’s website.) For a person who cares about status as much as Epstein does, and for a person who believes that he’s famous, this brief no-name dismissal must hurt as much as Trump’s brief no-name Supreme Court dismissal.

Knowing Epstein (having known him long ago), UD anticipates that he is working already on a vindictive short story featuring easily identifiable actors in this Biden episode. After Saul Bellow ended their friendship, Epstein wrote one such story about Bellow; he wrote several vindictive stories about lesser-known people.

Which is fine – one of the venerable motives for writing is the destruction of people who have hurt you and/or people you have come to hate. Nothing wrong with it. Give it your best shot, kiddo.

Margaret Soltan, December 12, 2020 7:23PM
Posted in: ud's hippie years

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6 Responses to “Joseph Epstein’s Three Minutes of Fame…”

  1. factcheck Says:

    will phi beta kappa follow?

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    factcheck: Good question.

  3. factcheck Says:

    statement issued

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    factcheck: Thanks for the link.

    This statement from the organization behind The American Scholar, which Epstein edited until they fired him, will have him singing This Bitter Earth from the heart.

  5. University Diaries » The Unkindest Cut of All Says:

    […] old acquaintance, (see this post) Joseph Epstein, Man of the Hour, has endured insults from all over the world in the aftermath of […]

  6. University Diaries » The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler asked, “Why would they publish, without analysis, a bunch of stuff that[‘s] already been fact checked as false?” Says:

    […] they also published Joseph Epstein attacking a doctorate holder for being called doctor. Editorial decisions at the Wall Street Journal have gotten very mad tea party: “We’re […]

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