ot withstanding fundamental disagreements with the business of teaching at George Washington University, Ron would always acknowledge one notable “bright spot,” William Allen Wilbur. Something of an institution as of 1931, whole generations of young men recalled Wilbur’s slightly stooped figure in the former chapel where his freshman rhetoric class convened. The more appreciative among them further recalled his abiding love of Robert Browning and singular theories on Shakespeare; he seems to have regarded The Tempest as an encoded metaphysical dissertation. As referenced below, the eccentric Wilbur was additionally remembered for his perennial challenge that students compose a single sentence of three hundred words... To which, Ron responded, “So I wrote a five hundred word sentence which merely said this: That a man was not permitted to think in the Western world, and that this would inhibit any culture arising from universities. And when you go on that long with only one ’and’ and one ’but’ and no semicolons, it begins to build up a considerable velocity.” It also landed the twenty-year-old LRH in considerable trouble and, in fact, he was finally informed, “that unless I would write an entirely different theme expressing entirely different sentiments, I would be expelled from the university... Proving my point!”
But he would not fault Dean Wilbur. Dating from the spring of 1936, or when his rising star within American fiction returned him to George Washington University for lectures before Douglas Bement’s short story class, Ron’s letter to the dean is as touching a tribute as any educator might wish. It is published here for the first time, and otherwise speaks eloquently for itself.
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