PRINT September 2000


The Harold Letters

THE HAROLD LETTERS is a curious addition to the Clement Greenberg literature. The volume encompasses some fifteen years of correspondence from Greenberg to his college friend Harold Lazarus, beginning in 1928 when the two were nineteen-year-old classmates in the English department at Syracuse. The missives are chatty, lubricious, name-droppy, gossipy, vulgar. Plainly juvenilia, The Harold Letters will amuse Greenberg devotees, demonstrating that before he congealed into the dome-headed oracle of AbEx and Color Field, he was once young and arrogant and sexed up and ambitious as opposed to merely being old and mean and those other things too. (Greenberg's boasts of literary heavy lifting reek of the icky self-congratulation of a post-collegiate know-it-all, but they also constitute his charm, as when, for instance, he exhorts Harold to “read Racine over again. You'll go crazy about him, I

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