Literary baseball fan in Russell's "Conquest of Happiness"?
March 2, 2010 2:53 AM   Subscribe

Who was the literary baseball fan in Bertrand Russell's "Conquest of Happiness"? (1930)

Or consider again the passionate joy of the baseball fan: he turns to his newspaper with avidity, and the radio affords him the keenest thrills. I remember meeting for the first time one of the leading literary men of America, a man whom I had supposed from his books to be filled with melancholy. But it so happened that at that moment the most crucial baseball results were coming through on the radio; he forgot me, literature, and all the other sorrows of our sublunary life, and yelled with joy as his favourites achieved victory. Ever since this incident I have been able to read his books without feeling depressed by the misfortunes of his characters.
I thought it might be T.S. Eliot, but "books" and "misfortunes of his characters" seems to suggest a novelist rather than a poet.
posted by TheophileEscargot to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hmm, no answers yet.

I was thinking it might be worked out through finding the intersection of the sets "leading literary men of America in 1930", "baseball fans", and "writers of books filled with melancholy"; rather than by knowing the answer for certain.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 4:51 AM on March 2, 2010

This seems to indicate it might have been Hemingway.
posted by The Potate at 6:12 AM on March 2, 2010

I just finished that one recently, and my first guess was Hemingway, but I didn't have anything to base that on. I just remembered some discussion of baseball in The Old Man and the Sea and Hemingway's love of sports in general.
posted by wheat at 6:36 AM on March 2, 2010

Hemmingway measured sport in calibre. I can't see him dropping everything to listen to the Yankees score. Eliot on the other hand.....

Until recently no scholar could prove T. S. Eliot's intense involvement with baseball.

In 1913, he finally ventured to Fenway, but the team's fortunes declined and the Red Sox slumped to fourth. Before the next season had ended, Eliot left for Europe, convinced he would always be a snake-bitten fan. Later that year he met Bertrand Russell, who noted in a letter to Lady Ottoline Morrell that Eliot possessed "no vigour or life—or enthusiasm." If Russell had been familiar with baseball in general and the American League in particular, he might well have grasped the reasons why.
posted by three blind mice at 6:44 AM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was going to guess Hemingway, but that seems to be ruled out now. Then I thought maybe Scott Fitzgerald, but he has this quote: "Baseball is a game played by idiots for morons." So no. But then there's this anecdote: "As Hemingway was sitting and drinking with some “completely worthless characters,” Fitzgerald came in with a tall young man who turned out to be the famous baseball pitcher, Dunc Chaplin. Hemingway was no baseball devotee and had never heard of Chaplin, but recognised Fitzgerald, and took this chance to introduce himself, which went something like this:” Mr Fitzgerald, forgive me, but my name is Ernest Hemingway, I am a writer.”
posted by mattbucher at 7:07 AM on March 2, 2010

Maybe Sinclair Lewis?
posted by mattbucher at 7:26 AM on March 2, 2010

I asked these guys, and they guessed that it was Edmund Wilson.
posted by the dief at 7:32 AM on March 2, 2010

Edmund Wilson might be a bit late for 1930, his Wikipedia bibliography starts at 1931.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:54 AM on March 2, 2010

The TS Eliot idea sounds good at first, but: Three Blind Mice's quote says he and Russell met in 1914 in Europe, at which time 'Eliot possessed "no vigour or life—or enthusiasm"', in contrast to which the Russell quote in the OP shows whoever possessing quite a bit of vigour, life, and enthusiasm...
posted by FlyingMonkey at 3:41 PM on March 2, 2010

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