the literary historian. From the 1930’snthrough the 70’s there were few importantnBritish writers whom he did notnknow. During this time he was considerednby many to be the most talentednmember of his generation. And yet,nhis real gift seemed to lie in producingnexcuses for his failure to realize thatntalent. As David Pryce-Jones (the editornof his journal) observes: “Nobodyncould argue the if-only case morenplausibly. If only he had been born innanother age he might have been annelegiac Roman poet, a classical Englishnwit and essayist, a French philosophenor poete maudit—if only he hadninherited an estate and a fortune tonfree him from drudgery—if only henwere handsomer, lived elsewhere,nwith someone else.”nUnfortunately, these excuses tend tonpale when Connolly’s imagined hardshipsnare measured against the verynreal impediments faced by his contemporarynGeorge Orwell. A prep-schoolnclassmate of Connolly’s, Orwell wasnplagued by ill health, financial difficulties,nand the indifference of thosenupper-class dilettantes who fawnednover lesser writers and lesser men.nWhen Orwell came back from Burma,nhis old school chum recalled, “Hisngreeting was typical, a long but notnunfriendly stare and his characterishcnwheezy laugh, ‘Well, Connolly, I cannsee you’ve worn a good deal betternthan I have.’ I could say nothing for Inwas appalled by the ravaged groovesnthat ran down from cheek to chin. Mynfat cigar-smoking persona must havenbeen a surprise to him.” Then, afternthe Spanish Civil War, Orwell wrotento Connolly: “A pity you didn’t comenup to our position and see me whennyou were at Aragon. I would havenenjoyed giving you tea in a dugout.”nAlthough one should rarely judge anwriter for the eccentricities of his personalnlife, it is hard not to do so whennthe text in question is autobiographical.nBoth Connolly’s Journal andnDavid Pryce-Jones’s accompanyingnMemoir make much of Cyril’s youthfulnhomosexuality. It seems more thanna little surprising that Connolly did notn” discover until well into his adult yearsnthat his most genuine sexual desiresnwere for women (the British prepnschool ambience was such that duringnearly puberty he was, in effect, a closetnheterosexual). Once the truth wasnle/CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnknown, however, Connolly devotednhimself to making up for lost time.nHe married a rich American girl andnthen discarded her when a glandularnoperation rendered her fat and infertile.n(“It was like cutting a ring of barknoff a healthy tree,” he complained.)nNevertheless, she continued to sendnhim a monthly allowance for as longnas her own fortune held up. “In hisnhomosexual stage,” Pryce-Jones writesnof Connolly, “he had seen himselfnas punished by loneliness and poverty.nAs a married man, he sawnhimself punished by company andnworldliness.”nWhen Connolly described the artistnas “a member of the leisured classesnwho cannot pay for his leisure,” henwas speaking of himself and not hisnmentor Logan Pearsall Smith. Son of anprominent family of American Quakers,nthe independenriy wealthy Smithnsettled in England in 1888 and dedicatednthe rest of his life to writingnwhatever struck his fancy. Unlike hisnyoung friend Connolly, he committednhimself to writing to the exclusion ofnother pleasures. (When one ladynfriend asked why he had never proposednto her. Smith replied that it wasnbecause she had no central heating innher house except on the ground floor.)nPerhaps as a function of his image, henabjured the crassness and vulgarity ofnhis homeland, saying “I am willing tonlove all mankind except an American.”nAnd yet, he maintained goodnrelations with a wide range of Americannauthors — from an aging WaltnWhitman to an adolescent DwightnMacdonald.nAccording to his friend John Russell,n”Logan Pearsall Smith lived fornletters.” He was a voracious correspondentnwho apparently planned his lifenaround the postman’s arrival at hisnhouse (an amazing four times a day).nThus, it was inevitable that a selectionnof his letters be published. Becausenthey are designed for communicationnwith other people, these epistles lacknthe cloying self-reflexiveness of CyrilnConnolly’s journal. They also give usnfascinating personal glimpses of thenmany interesting people whom Smithnknew. Still, one must wonder whetherna life “lived for letters” is not the marknof a first-rate friend but a second-ratenartist. As Smith himself admitted: “Itngrieves me when people I like like mynnnwriting; I had hoped that they hadnbetter taste.”nAlthough Smith’s friends were alwaysnaware of his talents as a letternwriter, his fame among general readersnrested on his aptly named collection ofnaphorisms All Trivia. Properly considered,nan aphorism is a memorablenstatement which arises out of the contextnof a writer’s thought and work.nHowever, when such statements havenno context, and are produced as endsnin themselves, they must strike us asnsuperficial and self-indulgent. Countlessnundergraduates have tried to speaknaphoristically for about a month afternreading Boswell’s Life of Johnson. Mostnoutgrow this tendency. Logan PearsallnSmith never did.nThis one virtue which partially redeemsnSmith’s own writing from thencriticisms which can be justly levelednagainst it is its wit. In a letter to hisnmother he tells of “a high church mannat Oxford—a very learned man—whonwould not go out at night because henhad read in the Fathers that devils wentnabout at night. He afterwards . . .njoined the Catholic Church.” Then,nthere are Smith’s coinages of needednwords. My favorites include: “AnnAbednego—one who has walked innthat fiery furnace and has not beennscorched. . . . Sheepgoating—nseparating authors, painters, andnall one’s friends and acquaintancesninto right hand and (mostly) left handnpens. . . . Gluebottom — a visitornwho won’t go away.” Unfortunately,nfar too many of Smith’s observationsnare the kind of high-minded nonsensenwe might expect from an apostatenQuaker.nMore than a century elapsed betweennthe birth of Logan PearsallnSmith in 1865 and the death of CyrilnConnolly in 1975. During that time,nthe modernist revolution transformednEnglish literature in a way not seennsince the invention of the Guttenbergnpress. In a sense, though, both Smithnand Connolly were throwbacks to earlierntimes. Gore Vidal, who has strugglednto assume the mantle of an allaroundnman of letters, finds “itnstartling to think that someone likenPearsall Smith actually lived most ofnhis life in our century.” By the samentoken, Cyril Connolly was no modernist,nbut a fin de siecle decadent bornntoo late. Rather than end his life earlyn