An excerpt from Armand's 1996 Christmas
letter gives us a view from one end of his
book shelf to the other. He was 82 years old
when he wrote:
Besides a bunch of articles and a book of poetry in February (Robert Frost et al, needn't feel uneasy about their reputations: it's just a selection from little ditties composed over the past forty-plus years. I call it 1001 Horny Limericks. Yes, it's available if you're determined. Inquire at the return address on this envelope, but don't say I didn't warn you) the serious literary activity of my year (and the longest sentence since Henry James) was "The Uses of History in Fiction and Film", W.V.U.'s 21st Colloquium on Modern Literature and Film, held October 17-19.
After a lapse of ten years, I took it on for the eighth time, there being a crisis of availability of a likelier candidate to direct it. Luckily, things went well. Some 250 participants (all but a few showed up), big speakers, exhibits, and 62 special sessions for paper readers. I have already taken the plunge and agreed to run the show one more time.
Much more restful, three weeks later, was a drive to that charming old Southern city of Savannah to attend the South Atlantic Modern Language Association convention to chair a session on science fiction (again, I'm not making this up). Had a walking tour of the old part of town where so many events of a literary or scandalous nature took place (cf. John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, seems it's all pretty true).
Returned to W. Va. in bad weather but no casualties. Oh, should have added: visited spots connected with Conrad Aiken, Flannery O'Connor, Julian Green, and others. Savannah is well worth a visit.
...Well, as I noted above, I've agreed to do one more Colloquium (and I do mean, just one). Working title, "Critical Theory Examines the Literature and Film of the Last Hundred Years" (a retrospective look at what we've wrought, using Freudian, Marxist,semiotic, deconstructionist, and a dozen and more other better and worse, upcoming and outmoded theories for making sense out of literature and film art). This one's my own baby and I'm really anxious to see how well it plays.
Note: In the days before he passed away in July of 2007, Armand was organizing the 31st Colloquium at W.V.U. from his hospital bed!