Tuesday, March 06, 2012

"In a Snob-Free Zone"

From a 2002 Washington Monthly essay by Joseph Epstein:

Now in my seventh decade am I, at last, anywhere near the snob-free zone? I think it fair to say that I haven't much interest in the social climb. When I think of people for whose company I yearn for, I find the majority of them no longer alive. I have a weakness--a snobbish weakness?--for people who exhibit style, but style with the strong suggestion of substance behind it. From the previous generation, I should have liked to have known Noel Coward, Audrey Hepburn, George Balanchine, Marcello Mastroianni, Vladimir Nabokov, George Marshall, Edmund Wilson (when sober), and Billy Wilder. Of people still in full career, I find that, among public figures, I admire Pierre Boulez, whom I met once and found both haimish and winning; Mikhail Baryshnikov, who surmounted the obstacles of being born to wretched parents in a miserable country to go on to become a prominent artist with a selfless devotion to his art; and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who seems to me not only the most talented person in political life but the only one with whom I'd care to sit down to lunch.

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