The Corner

Dream of the Red Chamber

The pre-editorial-dinner drink’n’chat sessions at Bill’s place were at half past seven, which made the whole thing easy to remember: 73 East 73rd Street at 7:30. In the last year or two of his life, when he was going to bed earlier, Bill changed it to 7:00, which threw everybody off, and seemed to me to violate some fundamental mathematical principle.

I won’t have a whole lot to boast of to my grandchildren, not having been very deedy, but I shall at least be able to reminisce about sitting in that marvelous Red Room with colleagues and some distinguished dinner guest, listening to Larry Perelman playing a Bach partita and watching Bill totally lost in the music.

The greatest of all classic Chinese novels has the title Hong Lou Meng — “Dream of the Red Chamber.” I’ll be having that dream for the rest of my life.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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