Gilbert Highet and Classics at Columbia

The Many Lives of Moses Hadas

Lou Gehrig: Columbia Legend and American Hero

Cournand and Richards and the Bellevue Hospital Cardiopulmonary Lab

Lou Gehrig André Cournand

THE CURRENT SPECIAL INSTALLMENT of “Living Legacies” features two dominant figures in classical studies at Columbia in the thirties, forties, and fifties—Gilbert Highet and Moses Hadas ’30GSAS. Highet, as I recall him from my undergraduate days, was not only a great classroom lecturer but a brilliant speaker at campus events, with a thespian gift for mimicry (he did a marvelous takeoff on the oratory of Adolf Hitler). He was, of course, also a major cosmopolitan figure as a regular cultural critic for radio station WQXR and known, even more widely, as a world-class scholar. I myself had no chance to study with Highet (my colleague in Japanese studies, Donald Keene ’42C ’50GSAS, did), but I held him in such awe from a distance that I was taken aback when the distinguished Oxford don and UNESCO pooh-bah Ronald Syme referred to him at an international meeting in the fifties simply as “young Highet.” The other thing that sticks in my mind about Highet is his explanation for no longer going to the Faculty Club: “Every time I went there, I found myself appointed to another faculty committee!”

Robert Ball, a Ph.D. student of Highet in the sixties, is a professor of classics at the University of Hawaii. He has published two editions of Gilbert Highet’s papers (The Classical Papers of Gilbert Highet and The Unpublished Lectures of Gilbert Highet).

MOSES HADAS WAS ONE OF MY INSTRUCTORS in the junior-year Colloquium on Important Books, the celebrated honors course that teamed John Erskine ’01C ’03GSAS with Raymond Weaver of Herman Melville fame. A distinguished classicist himself, Hadas was also the epitome of the great teacher, whose personal engagement with undergraduates made him a father figure for students in the undergraduate humanities program and whose intellectual adventurousness led him to join in the first Oriental Colloquium (attended by such Columbians as the critic Norman Podhoretz ’50C, the poet John Hollander ’50C ’52GSAS, and John Rosenberg ’50C ’60GSAS, the authority on Carlyle and Ruskin).

A special feature of our essay on Moses Hadas is that it is written by his daughter Rachel, a critic, translator, and essayist as well as a noted poet, who includes in her account of her father charming reminiscences of her childhood on Morningside Heights and her impressions of the Columbia community. Rachel Hadas, professor of English at Rutgers, has been a director’s fellow in residence at the Center for Writers and Scholars, New York Public Library, for 2000–2001. Her latest book, Merrill, Cavafy, Poem, and Dreams (Poets on Poetry), is published by University of Michigan Press.

Reading Rachel Hadas’s warm tribute—both personal and professional—to her father alongside Robert Ball’s encomium of his teacher—again, both personal and professional—one is struck by a similarity in the accomplishments of each. They were contemporaries: both received tenure in 1938, and both joined the brilliant company of versatile scholars and teachers (including Jacques Barzun ’27C ’32GSAS, Lionel Trilling ’25C ’38GSAS, and Mark Van Doren ’21GSAS ’60HON) who represented the new humanities at Columbia. Though quite different in temperament and rhetorical skills, as members of the same classics department Highet and Hadas complemented each other in their unprecedented historical achievement at Columbia—bringing the Greek and Roman classics in accessible translations (that is, out of the hands of classical exegetes, focusing on the original text) to a much wider audience in the College and the world at large.

RAY ROBINSON ’41C ’44L, AUTHOR OF THE ESSAY on Lou Gehrig, has carried on a Columbia legacy from his father, Louis Robinson ’10C ’12L. He has been an editor at Pageant, Coronet, Good Housekeeping, and Seventeen, and has written biographies of Lou Gehrig, Christy Mathewson, Will Rogers, and Knute Rockne. Robinson has also contributed many articles to The New York Times, The Washington Post, the New York Daily News, TV Guide, and American Heritage.

FROM THEIR EMINENCE AND CELEBRITY as Nobel Prize winners in medicine, one might expect an account of André Cournand ’65HON and Dickinson Richards ’23P&S ’66HON to deal only with their remarkable achievements as research scientists working away in their laboratories. This essay by Yale Enson ’48C and Mary Dickinson Chamberlain, however, is a story of brilliant scholars and researchers, inspired by humanistic as well as scientific traditions, who contributed to the humanitarian service of Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in the hospitals of New York.

Yale Enson is professor emeritus of clinical medicine and special lecturer in pulmonary medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. He became a research fellow under Cournand in Columbia’s Cardiopulmonary Laboratory at Bellevue Hospital in 1959—the last fellow for whom Cournand assumed direct responsibility. His own research has centered on the physiology of the pulmonary system, in which he has made substantial contributions to the study of arterial hypertension and the management of patients with circulatory complications of respiratory disease. He is a member of the American Physiologic Society and American Society for Clinical Investigation.

In contrast to André Cournand, who left rich documentation concerning his own early history and family background, Dickinson Richards left little. Mary Dickinson Chamberlin, M.D., proved to be the key to unlocking the personal history of her grandfather. A graduate of Cornell and of the University of Vermont Medical Center, she is currently a house officer in the Fletcher Allen Health Care Medical Center at the University of Vermont.

Wm. Theodore de Bary ’41C ’53GSAS ’95HON
for the Living Legacies Committee
of the 250th Anniversary Celebration