My age allows me to confess without embarrassment that I have always admired the novelist's calling and often wished I had been born to it. My generation is perhaps the only one in middle-class America that ever took its writers seriously: Faulkner, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Scott Fitzgerald, and John Dos Passos are my contemporaries; with the latter two, during their Baltimore residences, I was socially acquainted. Nowadays the genre is so fallen into obscure pretension on the one hand and cynical commercialism on the other, and so undermined at its popular base bu television, that to hear a young person declare his or her ambition to be a capital-W Writer strikes me as anachronistical, quixotic, as who should aspire in 1969 to be a Barnum & Bailey acrobat, a dirigible pilot, or the Rembrandt of the stereopticon. Even on the last day of 1954 and the first of 1955 it struck me thus, though I saw no point in so remarking to you. But in the 1920's and 30's, even into de 40's, there was still a heroism in your vocation such as I think there will never be again in this country; a considerable number of us had rather been Hemingway than Gary Cooper or Charles Lindbergh, for example.