Friendship Among the Intellectuals
“It is painful to consider,” wrote Samuel Johnson about friendship, “that there is no human possession of which the duration is less certain.”
Too true. Some friendships die on their own, of simple inanition, having been quietly allowed to lapse by the unacknowledged agreement of both parties. Others break down because time has altered old friends, given them different interests, values, points of view. In still others, only one party works at the friendship, while the other belongs to what Truman Capote called (in a letter to the critic Newton Arvin, his ex-lover) “some odd psychological type . . . that only writes when he is written to.” And then of course there are the friendships that end when one friend betrays or is felt to betray the other, or fails to come through in a crisis, or finds himself violently disputing the other on matters of profoundest principle.
About the Author
Joseph Epstein is a regular contributor to COMMENTARY.