Four years before he died, Isaac Bashevis Singer visited Carbondale, Illinois, at the invitation of the Southern Illinois University English Department, and on money mostly from the Honors College. It must have been some visit. Both times I’ve visited SIUC for their Devil’s Kitchen Literary Festival, there was no after-reading bar talk that was entirely Singerless. In the introduction to the new Best American Short Stories, Richard Russo, who taught there at the time, relates Singer’s formulation of the purpose of literature (First, to entertain; Second, to instruct; and in that order, and that order only.) My favorite account of Singer’s visit is recorded by Rodney Jones, in his estimable poetry collection Elegy for the Southern Drawl:
The Limousine Bringing Isaac Bashevis Singer to Carbondale
A town is the size of a language.
In four more years he would be dead, but now, READ MORE >