The Corner

Culture

Himmelfarb’s Humor

A personal note. I first met Gertrude Himmelfarb it must be 40 years ago at some NYC book event, possibly even (sinister music) a cocktail party. She had just written an essay on the unclassifiable English journalist William Cobbett, who fled the British army thanks to his radicalism, became a hard-line anti-Jeffersonian in America, then returned to his homeland as a follower of Thomas Paine. Chesterton, another political loose cannon, admired him.

I told Himmelfarb that I had liked the essay, and added, in my wet behind the ears way, that I had long wanted to know more about Cobbett.

“And now,” she said brightly, “you don’t have to read him!”

R.I.P.

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