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The Santayana Edition, part of the Institute for American Thought (IAT), produces The Works of George Santayana, an unmodernized, critical edition of George Santayana’s published and unpublished writings. The critical editing process aims to produce texts that accurately represent Santayana’s final intentions regarding his works, and to present all evidence on which editorial decisions have been based. The Works of George Santayana is projected to be 20 volumes consisting of at least 35 books. It is published by The MIT Press (Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England) and is supported by the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts, Indianapolis and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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    Letters in Limbo ~ August 18, 1951

    Fox and crowTo Robert Shaw Sturgis
    Via Santo Stefano Rotondo, 6
    Rome. August 18, 1951

    Dear Bob,

    Your great letter of some time ago introduced me (as I wrote to your mother) to a new personage. Your three visits during the war had left an unsatisfactorily vague image of your mind in mine; my deafness and your reticence (added to the fact that my contacts with the Sturgis family and yours, though both intimate, had been in different branches of it and at different dates) made it impossible for me to be sure of your character. You were very imposing and attractive as a big boy; but what would you be as an architect or philosopher? I remember laughing at that time and repeating what the fox in Lafontaine says to the crow: Sí votre ramage se raporte à votre plumage, Vous êtes le phénix des hôtes de ce bois, “ramage” in my version (which may be misspelled) meaning intellect, and “plumage” personal charm; but the “bois” stands only for my brother’s descendents, which hardly make a forest.

    Now at last, and not because of any flattery on my part, you have opened your mouth and splendidly removed all my uncertainties. You are a firmly-knit man, and yet, happily for you, are a man of your exact time and place That is as it should be in a distinct and enterprising society. So long as the Niagara you swim with flows steadily and victoriously, though you may have some anxious moments, you will on the whole have a glorious experience, even if you are not a distinguished leader

    G Santayana

    From The Letters of George Santayana: Book Eight, 1948-1952. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008. Location of manuscript: Collection of Robert Shaw Sturgis, Weston MA.

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