“What you maybe don’t know is that I always go into a decline at times like this—saying to myself that surely it would be far easier just to sit still and forget the whole thing, but then I think of a fourth consecutive year in Durham and plow on.”
—Reynolds Price, in a letter to Wallace Kaufman, July 8, 1961
AFTER DEBARKING FROM the Queen Mary
and clearing customs on the Southampton dock by ten in the morning, I leapt aboard a train for Oxford with my small borrowed trunk and one suitcase. In the three years since I was last in England, British Railways had surely not upgraded the third-class...