Talking-In a New Year

WE saw the old year out at the [humorist James] Thurbers' last night. The first snow of the season began to fall as we drove over. But coming home the snow had stopped, the sky had cleared and a nearly full moon had come out, lighting up the snow-mantled countryside. It was quite beautiful. Thurber, blind, is rather petulant, but I try to take it good naturedly, being full of admiration for the pluck he shows in continuing to work at his writing despite his handicap - the great, awful, continuous darkness in which he must always live. Humorist that he is - perhaps the greatest in the country - he feels fiercely that the world has gone to hell, that there is very little hope for this country, now seized by unbelievable intolerance. We talked in the New Year rather lugubriously, but I had the feeling that neither he nor I felt as bad about it as we said we did. Have not all great humorists been incurable pessimists at heart? Mark Twain? Was Rabelais?

- From ``A Native's Return,'' by William L. Shirer

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