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Letters to the World “Series” by Jascha Kessler

October 18, 2016


Letters Editor


New York City


Dear Letters Editor:

I don’t know what is in the 1974 Woodward report re freedom of speech at Yale, which President Salovey refers to in “Yale Believes in Free Speech—and So Do I,” 18 October].  But he seems, in his attempt to reassure universities, if not the public as well, that all expression, even wearing a hidalgo’s sombrero to a dress-up party, will be entitled to protection: as though Yale remains a “safe space” for all and any expressions of personal liberties.

Well, Salovey may then have been too young, and hasn’t learned some lessons he ought to.  In November of 1974, I saw the first marchers in Berkeley parading down Spruce to Sather Gate at the University of California behind a banner reading “Free Speech Movement.” [The FSM]  A few days later the next banner declared, “F–k You.” [The FYM]  Nobelist Saul Bellow had vividly predicted the second banner’s declaration of the coming war against freedom speech even for invited speakers in his 1970 novel, Mr. Sammler’s Planet.

Whatever the coming election’s results may be, one wishes Yale—and the rest of us, Lotsa luck.


Jascha Kessler

Professor of English & Modern Literature, UCLA, Santa Monica, CA

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Jascha Kessler
Born in New York City, Jascha Kessler (Ph.D., Litt.D.) has received varied research grants, prizes, and writing fellowships since 1952 when he won a Major Hopwood Award for Poetry (University of Michigan). They include the NEA Fellowship in Writing, two Senior Fulbright Awards to Italy and one to Czechoslovakia. Since 1961, he has been a Professor of English & Modern Literature at UCLA, also teaching poetry, fiction, and playwrighting. In 1979, Mr. Kessler was a Rockefeller Fellow and worked at the Bellagio Study Center, completing his translation (with Amin Banani) of the Persian poet Forugh Farrokhzad: BRIDE OF ACACIAS: THE POETRY OF FORUGH FARROKHZAD (Caravan Books, Delmar, NY: 1983). He won a California Arts Council Fellowship in Fiction Writing for 1993-1994. He reviewed fiction and poetry weekly, theater and events on the air for KUSC-FM (Los Angeles) for 5 years in the 1980s; several dozen of his reviews, both broadcast and published in magazines and papers since the 1960s, have been anthologized in CONTEMPORARY LITERARY CRITICISM (Gale Research) over the decades. His literary essays have appeared widely. He also served as Arts Commissioner for the City of Santa Monica, California, from 1990-1996. In 2001, his translation of TRAVELING LIGHT from the Finnish won the Finnish Literary Translation Centre Award. Kessler has published several collections of fiction. AN EGYPTIAN BONDAGE, & Other Stories (Harper & Row, NY: 1967); DEATH COMES FOR THE BEHAVIORIST: 4 Long Stories (Lexis Press, San Francisco, CA: 1983); CLASSICAL ILLUSIONS: 28 Stories (McPherson & Co.: Kingston, NY, 1985); and TRANSMIGRATIONS: 18 Mythologems (Jazz Press: Capitola, CA: 1985). His latest collection, SIREN SONGS & CLASSICAL ILLUSIONS: 50 Stories", was published by McPherson & Co., in December of 1992. Also a novel, RAPID TRANSIT 1948: An Unsentimental Education (Xlibris 2000) and a second edition of AN EGYPTIAN BONDAGE (Xlibris 2000). He has also published three volumes of poetry: WHATEVER LOVE DECLARES (The Plantin Press: Los Angeles, CA: 1969; AFTER THE ARMIES HAVE PASSED (NYU Press: NY: 1970); and, IN MEMORY OF THE FUTURE (Kayak Press, Santa Cruz, CA: 1976). Also, revised as COLLECTED POEMS (Xlibris 2000). In 2013 his KING SOLOMON’S SEAL: 76 AND MORE FABLES, was published (xLibris.com, in hardback, paperback, ebook versions).

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