Most of us believe we can spot a drowning person when we see one. But we always make the mistake of thinking that drowning only involves what. believe it or not, you have missed quite a number of drowned and drowning people. Some of us are thought to save some one drowning in water, most of us can spot that too, but none of us has been thought to see the other kinds of drowners, nor how to save them.
Offered a job as book critic for magazine as a young man, Bellow had been interviewed by Chambers and asked to give his opinion about William Wordsworth. Replying perhaps too quickly that Wordsworth had been a Romantic poet, he had been brusquely informed by Chambers that there was no place for him at the magazine. Bellow had often wondered, he told us, what he ought to have said. I suggested that he might have got the job if he'd replied that Wordsworth was a once-revolutionary poet who later became a conservative and was denounced by Browning and others as a turncoat. This seemed to Bellow to be probably right. More interesting was the related question: What if he'd that job?