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Dr. Coles among the Poor

- Abstract

IT IS a strange business, the sudden popular success of people who do intellectual work in America. Although decades may have gone into the making of their reputations, fame-the actual moment at which their names, so to speak, go public-seems to come on with great suddenness. All at once, as though by some hidden consensus, they are granted a sort of general public license as authorities: their names start to crop up on television talk shows, soon afterward they begin to appear more and more frequently in person-shyly at first, then with increasing confidence as they find themselves treated as headliners on all sides. The next thing one knows, there they are on the cover of Time or Newsweek (or both), having successfully negotiated that mysterious leap from the closed circle of their peers to national celebrity.

About the Author

Joseph Epstein is a regular contributor to COMMENTARY.