Winter 1987 • Vol. IX No. 1 Personally SpeakingJanuary 1, 1987 |

Influence without Anxiety: Sir Charles G. D. Roberts: And Me

I'm afraid to start rereading Roberts now, lest my topic slip through my fingers. A dozen years ago I was searching for a birthday present for a twelve-year-old boy. I was in the basement of the big downtown Goodwill store in Buffalo, looking at shelves of secondhand books. My eye fell on a set of Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, in a green and black cloth binding: obviously, exactly the sort of thing that no one would want: who ever wants large solid sets of books by forgotten authors? I remembered, though, with some embarrassment, that I myself had read a great deal of Roberts when I was a boy; could my friend's son possibly enjoy him too? I flipped open a volume, planning to read a page or two to see whether the set might do for a noncrucial gift. To my astonishment, perplexity, and even, I must admit, to my slight horror, I found my own style staring me in the face. This was where, for better or for worse, I had learned to write. All sorts of thoughts flashed through my mind. (W

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