Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

When my 50th college reunion at Brown was cancelled in May due to the pandemic, a virtual symposium was held on Zoom addressing the topic “Did Our Generation Fail?” I think the answer was Yes, but under the circumstances the verdict was rendered indirectly and diplomatically by the five panel members. I wish I had submitted as evidence the following excerpt from a late chapter in All People Are Famous, the 1974 autobiography by the eminent theater director and critic Harold Clurman, discussing “the younger generation” (us) and quoting from a letter of Anton Chekhov’s: “As long as our boys and girls are still students, they are still honest and good, they’re our hope, our future; but as soon as those students have to stand on their own and grow up, our future goes up in smoke, and all that’s left of the future are cottage-owning doctors, rapacious public officials, and thieving engineers.”

Clurman: “It would surely prove historically disastrous if the generation with a will to change society were to cool off into a neurotic complacency or into the quiet desperation Thoreau spoke of. I ask my students to bank their fires and to clean their weapons of language and thought and use them for something more than a parade.”

About Sean Mitchell

SEAN MITCHELL is a journalist, critic and former staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Herald Examiner and Dallas Times Herald. His articles and reviews have also appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, and other publications. Born in Bethlehem, Pa., he grew up in Dallas and is a graduate of St. Mark’s School of Texas and Brown University. He lives in Dallas.
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