It was a very lovely spring day…

Perhaps its because I just spent several hours siting outside reading rather than doing the work I more properly ought to be doing, but all I can think of today is a particularly memorable passage from Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Stein, I feel compelled to add, was raised in my hometown of Oakland, California.

It was a very lovely spring day, Gertrude Stein had been going to the opera every night and going also to the opera in the afternoon and had been otherwise engrossed and it was the period of the final examinations, and there was the examination in William James’s course. She sat down with the examination paper before her and she just could not. She wrote at the top of her paper, Dear Professor James, I am so sorry but really I do not feel a bit like an examination paper in philosophy to-day, and left. 

The next day she had a postal card from William James saying, Dear Miss Stein, I understand perfectly how you feel I often feel like that myself. And underneath it he gave her work the highest mark in his course.


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