In 1967, Sudisman, the general secretary of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), whose ranks had just been decimated in a series of massacres that left hundreds of thousands dead, was put on trial. Of the top five PKI leaders, Sudisman was the only one who appeared in court; the others were shot. Two foreigners were always present in the Jakarta courtroom: Benedict O’Gorman Anderson, a 30-year-old scholar of Indonesia, and Herbert Feith, a colleague of Anderson’s from Australia.
Amid the parade of Communist witnesses, only two of them spoke out in protest in the courtroom and refused to incriminate others. One was an old woman who subsequently went mad; the other, Anderson recalled many years later, “was this little Chinese kid who looked nineteen or twenty. Very calmly, and with great dignity, he gave his testimony. I was so impressed by it.”
Sudisman, who received a death sentence, also maintained his composure. In 2001, Anderson told me that he “was so dignified, so calm, and his speech was so great, that I felt a kind of moral obligation” to do something: “As Sudisman was leaving the courtroom for the last time, he looked at me and Herb. He didn’t say anything, but I had such a strong feeling that he was thinking: ‘You have to help us. Probably you two are the only ones I can trust to make sure that what I said will survive.’ It was like an appeal from a dying man.” Anderson answered that appeal in 1975, when he translated Sudisman’s speech into English from a smuggled copy of the court transcript. A radical printing collective in Australia published it as an orange-colored, 28-page pamphlet titled “Analysis of Responsibility,” with an admiring introduction by the translator.
After Sudisman’s trial, Anderson’s ability to do research in Java would eventually be curtailed. The young scholar, entirely fluent in Indonesian, was being watched: A US embassy document from 1967 stated that Anderson was “regarded…as an outright Communist or at least a fellow traveler.” He also found himself under attack in the Indonesian press: The magazine Chas, which reportedly had ties to the country’s intelligence services, called him a “useful idiot” in a front-page article. In April 1972, Anderson was expelled from the country. It was the beginning of an exile that would endure for almost three decades.
With Indonesia closed to him, Anderson journeyed to Bangkok in 1974. “It was a wonderful time to be there,” he later said. A heady interlude between dictatorships allowed Thai radicalism to flower. The good times ended in 1976, when the military overthrew the civilian regime and publicly shot and hanged student radicals in downtown Bangkok.
Still, the period Anderson spent in Thailand was essential to his intellectual growth, as it forced him to think comparatively—which, at the time, was rare among area-studies scholars. “Being in Thailand,” he later said, “forced me to think all the time about if I had to write about Thailand and Indonesia in one space, how would I do it?” Anderson, who died in Batu, Indonesia, in December at the age of 79, overcame that challenge, and the result was Imagined Communities (1983), a classic analysis of nationalism that has been translated into 29 languages.
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The “Harvard Law Review” Refused to Run This Piece About Genocide in Gaza
The “Harvard Law Review” Refused to Run This Piece About Genocide in Gaza
* * *
In June 2001, when Anderson was 64, I traveled to upstate New York to profile him for Lingua Franca. He lived in Freeville, eight miles east of Ithaca, in a spacious old farmhouse surrounded by grazing cattle and with a barn topped by a Javanese-style weather vane. For three days, we sat and talked in a breezy kitchen packed with unruly stacks of crime novels, scholarly journals, Asian newspapers, and doctoral theses. Mounted on a wall was a striking black-and-white photograph of a youthful Sukarno, the left-wing nationalist who led Indonesia to independence in 1949 and was overthrown by General Suharto in 1967.
As I prepared to leave, I inquired if Anderson intended to write a memoir, and he said no. But two years later, an editor at a Japanese publishing house asked him for a small autobiographical volume. “Embarrassed rejection” was his initial response: “Professors in the West rarely have interesting lives. Their values are objectivity, solemnity, formality and—at least officially—self-effacement.” But when a special friend and former student, Kato Tsuyoshi, of Kyoto University, agreed to assist him with the book and then translate it into Japanese, Anderson consented. It was published, to his satisfaction, in Japan in 2009.
From the outset of the project, Benedict’s brother, the historian and critic Perry Anderson, urged him to publish the memoir in English, but he brushed the idea aside. In 2015, with his 80th birthday approaching, he changed his mind. Shortly before his death, Anderson completed the final draft of A Life Beyond Boundaries, which is now before us. It’s a neat and tidy book about his unusual trajectory and sensibility, infused with inside jokes, idiosyncratic asides, and sly humor. It is also a tart overview of academic life. But mostly the memoir is a primer for cosmopolitanism and an argument for traversing geographical, historical, linguistic, and disciplinary borders.
The history of the Anderson family reads like a Conrad novel. Benedict’s great-great-grandfather, along with a great-great-uncle, joined the United Irishmen Rebellion of 1798, for which they did time in prison. A nephew of theirs took part in the uprising of 1848, and thereafter fled to Paris, Istanbul, and, eventually, the United States, where he became a member of the New York State Supreme Court. Another branch of the family tree has Anglo-Irish landowners and military officers who served the British empire in Burma, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, and India.
Anderson’s intrepid, linguistically gifted father spent most of his career in China as an employee of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, which began as a tool of British and French imperialists and, in his son’s words, was responsible for taxing “imperial China’s maritime trade with the outside world.” Benedict was born in Kunming in 1936, but his father made a consequential decision in 1941 to move the family to California: Had they remained in China, they might have been imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp.
In 1945, the family moved to Ireland, where they lived in a house full of “Chinese scrolls, pictures, clothes and costumes, which we would often dress up in for fun.” The radio was another source of entertainment and enlightenment: In the evenings, the family listened to classic novels that were read aloud on the BBC by distinguished actors, “so that our imaginations were filled with figures like Anna Karenina, the Count of Monte Cristo, Lord Jim, Uriah Heep, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and so on.” In those years, traveling theater groups proliferated in Ireland, and the Anderson children (including Benedict’s sister Melanie) absorbed plays by Shakespeare, Shaw, Wilde, Sheridan, and O’Casey.
His father died young, when Benedict was 9, and the children were dispatched to boarding schools in England. His English mother, who was passionate about books and ideas, was scraping by on a pension, so Benedict had to win scholarships. He ended up garnering one of 13 vacant slots at Eton, a place that immediately sharpened his sense of class distinction. The scholarship boys lived in a separate dorm from the sons of the British aristocracy and had to wear a special “medieval” outfit. But he received an extraordinary old-fashioned education in literature, art history, ancient history, archaeology, and comparative modern history.
At the core of the curriculum was rigorous language study in Latin, Greek, French, German, and a bit of “Cold War Russian.” (Later, Anderson would learn Indonesian, Javanese, Thai, Tagalog, Dutch, and Spanish.) The memorization and recitation of poems in Latin and French were an essential aspect of his education; his teachers also asked him to translate English poems into Latin and even to compose poems in that language. Few students after him were educated in so rigorous a fashion. It was the end of an era.
Having flourished at Eton, Anderson found Cambridge University to be a tranquil holiday. He became enamored of film (Japanese cinema, especially) and felt the first stirrings of politicization. One afternoon during the Suez Crisis of 1956, he crossed the campus and saw a group of brown-skinned students demonstrating:
Suddenly, out of the blue, the protestors were assaulted by a gang of big English student bullies, most of them athletes. They were singing “God Save the Queen!” To me this was incomprehensible, and reprehensible.
The protestors, mostly Indians and Ceylonese, were much smaller and thinner, and so stood no chance.… I tried to intervene to help them, only to have my spectacles snatched off my face and smashed in the mud.
After graduating from Cambridge, Anderson lingered at home for six months, quarreling with his mother, who wanted him to become a British diplomat. An alternative presented itself when a friend invited him to work as a teaching assistant in Cornell University’s department of government. He arrived in Ithaca during a snowstorm in January 1958 and stayed there for the duration of his long, productive career.
* * *
The 1950s and ’60s were heady years to be a graduate student in Southeast Asian studies at Cornell: It and Yale were the only American universities with robust programs in that area. Money was plentiful, not only from the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, but also from the US government, which was keen to understand peasant rebellions and nationalist movements in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Anderson savored the intellectual excitement of toiling in a new field: “students felt like explorers investigating unknown societies and terrains.” His peers—some of whom were from Burma, Vietnam, and Indonesia—literally built the Cornell Modern Indonesia Project, installing steel pillars to reinforce the rotting floors of the abandoned frat house where the program was located.
Some of the most pleasurable pages in A Life Beyond Boundaries feature finely etched, affectionate portraits of Anderson’s mentors. First among them was George Kahin, the savvy department chairman who was a specialist in Indonesia’s late-1940s struggles for independence from the Dutch, and whose sympathy for Indonesian nationalism would later result in the temporary revocation of his passport during the McCarthy years. Anderson writes that Kahin, who had participated in Quaker activism in defense of Japanese-Americans in the 1940s, “formed me politically.” Another influence was Claire Holt, a Russian-speaking Jew from Latvia who, after working as a ballet critic in Paris and New York, moved to Indonesia and became the lover of the German archeologist Wilhelm Stutterheim, who shared her deep interest in Indonesia’s precolonial civilizations. Holt had no scholarly credentials, but Kahin brought her to Cornell to teach Indonesian languages to his graduate students. Anderson spent countless hours in her house, absorbing her extensive knowledge of traditional Javanese art, dance, and culture; sometimes they would read Russian poetry aloud to each other. “Claire Holt,” he writes, “was very special to me.”
Two other men, in the early days, were close to his heart. Harry Benda was a Czech Jew whose business career in Java was interrupted by the Japanese occupiers, who put him in an internment camp that nearly ended his life. Later, Benda made his way to Cornell, where he wrote a dissertation on the relationship between the Japanese and Muslims in prewar and wartime Indonesia. John Echols was a “perfect American gentleman” who knew a dozen languages and compiled the first English-language Indonesian dictionary. Anderson’s adoration of dictionaries derived from Echols: “Still today,” he writes, “the favorite shelf in my personal library is filled only with dictionaries of many kinds.”
Anderson was lucky not only in his mentors, but also in the loose institutional arrangements at Cornell that cemented his career: “Against normal recruitment rules—which require competitive candidacies, extensive interviews, and hostility to ‘nepotism’—I walked into an assistant professorship without any interviews and without any outside candidate being considered.”
Kahin, his principal mentor, had urged Anderson to undertake a dissertation on the Japanese occupation of Indonesia from 1942 to 1945, and the young scholar landed in Jakarta in December 1961. His first glimpse of the country was unforgettable: “I remember vividly the ride into town with all the taxi’s windows open. The first thing that hit me was the smell—of fresh trees and bushes, urine, incense, smoky oil lamps, garbage, and, above all, food in the little stalls that lined most of the main streets.” He would remain in Indonesia for almost two and a half years.
Jakarta was not yet a heaving, smog-filled megacity: There were few cars, and the various neighborhoods still had a distinct character. Foreigners were scarce. In contrast to the social hierarchies Anderson had observed in the UK and Ireland, he was immediately struck by the “egalitarianism” around him: He lived near a street where, after dark, men would play chess on the sidewalks, and he noticed that clerks and pedicab drivers would face off against high government officials and debonair businessmen. For the young Anderson, this was “a kind of social heaven.” The language came easily: His Indonesian took flight after four months, and he found that “without self-consciousness, I could talk happily with almost anyone—cabinet ministers, bus drivers, military officers, maids, businessmen, waitresses, schoolteachers, transvestite prostitutes, minor gangsters and politicians.” (His connection to the language deepened with the years: Anderson told me that he did much of his thinking in Indonesian.)
When Anderson wasn’t laboring in Jakarta’s archives, he got to know Java, wandering through the old royal palaces; attending performances of shadow plays and spirit possession; exploring the Borobudur, the Buddhist stupa built in the 10th century (once he slept till dawn on the stupa’s highest terrace “next to the Enlightened Ones”); and visiting tiny villages of the interior.
From the evidence of this memoir, Anderson, lost in the reveries of fieldwork and leisure, was largely unaware of the escalating political frictions that would soon cause Java to explode.
* * *
On October 1, 1965, six Indonesian generals were murdered and their bodies tossed down a well. The left-wing president, Sukarno, was detained; General Suharto took control and blamed the coup attempt on the PKI. It was the beginning of what Anderson would call “the catastrophe”—a series of massacres that, according to a CIA study from 1968, were comparable to the Soviet purges of the 1930s and the Nazi mass murders of World War II.
Anderson and two colleagues (Ruth McVey and Frederick Bunnell) observed these events from the safety of Ithaca. But they were determined to provide an intellectual response to the Indonesian calamity, and they immediately set out to prove that the official account was flawed. Relying on a vast cache of provincial Indonesian newspapers at Cornell, as well as Indonesian radio transcripts, the trio produced, in January 1966, a 162-page report that became known as the Cornell Paper.
The document, which took three months to write, insisted that the coup attempt was not a Communist power grab, but an “internal army affair” spearheaded by colonels from the province of Central Java. Kahin, who was always keen to push US foreign policy in a more humane direction, sent the Cornell Paper to Assistant Secretary of State William Bundy, and it soon found its way to Joseph Kraft, a syndicated columnist who disseminated the conclusions of the young Cornell scholars.
In my discussions with Anderson in 2001, he defended the main thrust of the Cornell Paper—that an intra-military dispute triggered the violence—and he spoke with immense passion, and in fascinating detail, about the events of 1965–66. Alas, much of what he related to me is absent from A Life Beyond Boundaries.
The PKI, he explained, had a parliamentary orientation that resembled the Italian Communist Party’s. In the early 1960s, he admired its nationalism, its incorruptibility, and its opposition to the Vietnam War. But the years had given him a clear-eyed sense of the PKI’s errors. It was completely unarmed, but it embraced the rhetoric of Maoism: “That was a huge mistake. It created fear and anxiety about the Communist Party. It wasn’t a guerrilla army. That’s why they were massacred; they were all out in the open.”
When the Indonesian government permitted Anderson to return to the country in 1999, he attended a meeting of those who had survived the terror of the 1960s. The meeting took place in a nondescript Jakarta building owned by the Ministry of Manpower; most of the attendees were elderly. He recalled it as “an incredibly overwhelming experience,” akin to a Quaker meeting, where people talked about their lives and experiences. When he took his seat, a buzz went around the room; the foreign scholar was persuaded to speak. Afterward, a dignified Chinese man who was around 50 approached him. Anderson realized that before him was the “kid” who, 32 years earlier, had challenged the judge at Sudisman’s trial in 1967. They spent a day together and Anderson heard his tale, which he related to me:
Many of the Communists, when they were trying to escape the sweeps on them, fled into the Chinese ghettos, partly because the Chinese are much more closemouthed than the Indonesians are, partly because these ghettos are accustomed to a certain level of clandestinity. And this kid, who was a radical kid, was somehow recruited by Sudisman to be his personal courier in terms of contacting other people who were hiding underground.
Is the Cornell Paper a work of lasting scholarship? Anderson insisted in 2001 that the events of October 1, 1965, were “manipulated from the top by General Suharto,” whom he considered the puppet master of the conspiracy. Contemporary scholars of the September 30th Movement—or G30S, as the plotters were known—have a different view. In a recent e-mail to me, University of British Columbia historian John Roosa, the author of the 2006 study Pretext for Mass Murder: The September 30th Movement and Suharto’s Coup D’État in Indonesia, noted:
I argued that Suharto knew about the plot beforehand but was not involved in it. From what is known I think it is clear that Suharto was not the mastermind. All Ben had was speculation. He speculated that Suharto, if not the mastermind, played the role of spoiler: Suharto had planted double-agents in the G30S group…who then sabotaged the plot, making sure that it committed an atrocity (killing the generals) and then collapsed. I think this is overreaching…. Ben also wanted to acquit the PKI of any involvement…. The argument of the Cornell Paper—Javanese officers acting on their own—is completely wrong.
According to Roosa, top PKI leaders, including the chairman, D.N. Aidit, were deeply involved in the plot: “Aidit’s idea was to use military personnel who were loyal to the PKI to get rid of the army generals they suspected of being the key right-wing generals who were promoting anticommunism.” But matters went awry: “The initial plan seems to have been to capture the generals alive and present them to Sukarno, but the plotters didn’t carry out the plan with much concern for keeping the generals alive—three were shot or stabbed when they resisted being abducted.”
Given Anderson’s emotional connection to these events, one would expect that a memoir by him would contain a great deal about the “catastrophe.” But the carnage is evoked fleetingly and from a peculiar angle, in a brief passage about his comrade Pipit Rochijat Kartawidjaja, an Indonesian exile and “eternal student” in Berlin who, during the long Suharto dictatorship, clashed frequently and successfully with the “small, corrupt” Indonesian consulate in Berlin, effectively headed by an intelligence officer. Pipit, Anderson writes, is “an amazingly gifted and fearless satirical writer” whose articles are distinguished by “a mixture of formal Indonesian, Jakarta slang and Low Javanese,” a style that incorporated “Javanese wayang-lore, Sino-Indonesian kung-fu comic books, scatology and brazenly sexual jokes to make his friends laugh their heads off.”
Anderson, who credits Pipit with teaching him how to write fluently in Indonesian, translated one of his articles into English, an essay entitled “Am I PKI… or Non-PKI?,” which was based on incidents that Pipit had witnessed, as a young man, on a sugar estate in East Java in 1965. Pipit’s essay was full of black humor, but, Anderson says, “the horror haunted him”:
In his article he described how regular customers at the local brothel stopped going there when they saw the genitals of communists nailed to the door, and he recalled rafts piled high with mutilated corpses which floated down the Brantas river through the town of Kediri where he lived.
Writing at the end of his life, in a memoir that feels post-ideological, Anderson chose to accentuate the halcyon days in Java—the motorcycle trips through the interior, the sidewalk chess games, the full moon over Borobudur—instead of the ruination of a country he loved.
* * *
Anderson’s early work on Indonesia’s independence struggle of the 1940s led him to think seriously about nationalism: He saw how a skilled nationalist intelligentsia, based in Jakarta, had summoned not only a nation called Indonesia but also a new language, Indonesian, which became the language of resistance to the Dutch colonial rulers. Imagined Communities also grew out of the political realities in Southeast Asia following the Vietnam War. The book emerged from what Anderson viewed, in the early 1980s, as a “fundamental transformation in the history of Marxism and Marxist movements”: the wars between Vietnam, Cambodia, and China in 1978–79. Anderson simply couldn’t understand why Marxist regimes were fighting each other instead of the Western imperialists. It was a worrying spectacle: “I was haunted by the prospect of further full-scale wars between the socialist states.”
Anderson began a comprehensive study of nationalism, a force whose power and complexity were not explained by his sort of Marxist theory. In writing Imagined Communities, he was partly inspired by Tom Nairn’s The Break-up of Britain (1977), which, in Anderson’s words, had described the UK “as the decrepit relic of a pre-national, pre-republican age and thus doomed to share the fate of Austro-Hungary.” But Anderson strongly disagreed with Nairn’s contention that “‘nationalism’ is the pathology of modern developmental history, as inescapable as ‘neurosis’ in the individual.” Anderson argued that nationalism was neither a pathology nor a fixed, immutable force. Instead, he wrote, “it is an imagined political community…because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion.”
In an afterword to the 2006 edition of Imagined Communities, Anderson reflected on the book’s enormous success: “In the 1980s it was the only comparative study of nationalism’s history intended to combat Eurocentrism, and making use of non-European language sources. It was also the only one with a marked prejudice in favor of ‘small countries’”—Hungary, Thailand, Switzerland, Vietnam, Scotland, and the Philippines. Imagined Communities also broadly coincided with the rise of theory in the academy: It attempted to combine, he wrote in 2006, “a kind of historical materialism with what later on came to be called discourse analysis; Marxist modernism married to postmodernism avant la lettre.”
Anderson says in the memoir that he wanted to provoke his fellow scholars: “I deliberately brought together Tsarist Russia with British India, Hungary with Siam and Japan, Indonesia with Switzerland, and Vietnam with French West Africa…. These comparisons were intended to surprise and shock, but also to ‘globalize’ the study of the history of nationalism.”
What enabled him, in a learned fashion, to compare Hungary with Japan was a cast of mind that was always wide-ranging, endlessly curious, and interdisciplinary. When he surveys academic life, he sees thick disciplinary walls that breed narrow, provincial thinking. He tells us that, in his seminars on nationalism, he took pleasure in making students look outside their cubby holes:
I forced the young anthropologists to read Rousseau, political scientists a nineteenth-century Cuban novel, historians Listian economics, and sociologists and literary comparativists Maruyama Masao. I picked Maruyama because he was a political scientist, an Asian/Japanese, and a very intelligent man who read in many fields and had a fine sense of humour and history. It was plain to me that the students had been so professionally trained that they did not really understand each other’s scholarly terminology, ideology or theory.
He was also determined to steer them clear of jargon-filled writing, self-importance, and a reluctance (among American scholars) to learn difficult foreign languages. On the whole, he finds academia much too solemn, and likens professors to medieval monks determined to eradicate “frivolity.” As a student at Cambridge, he filled his papers with jokes, digressions, and sarcasm. In his early days at Cornell, he was immediately informed that “scholarship is a serious enterprise”—which made him reflect: “Now I understand what traditional Chinese foot-binding must have felt like.”
* * *
Anderson survived a heart attack in 1996 and retired from Cornell in 2001, after which he spent half of each year at his apartment in a lower-middle-class district of Bangkok—a zone, he told me, “full of small businesspeople, schoolteachers, mistresses of policemen, this sort of thing.” Liberated from his teaching and administrative duties, he threw himself into a number of projects: a book about anarchism and anticolonial nationalisms, Under Three Flags (which, he says, has “mystified many readers”); a literary-political biography of Kwee Thiam Tjing, the Sino-Indonesian journalist and columnist whose work, Anderson believed, embodied the finest qualities of humanism and cosmopolitanism in early-20th-century Indonesia; and an effort of “amateurish anthropology,” The Fate of Rural Hell: Asceticism and Desire in Buddhist Thailand. He never lost his passion for literature, and helped to translate Man Tiger by the young Indonesian writer Eka Kurniawan, whose “novels and short stories are in a class of their own, far above all authors in Southeast Asia that I know,” and whose sensibility he compared to that of Gabriel García Márquez.
He continued to think about nationalism, which is “a powerful tool of the state and the institutions attached to it,” and which, in nations ranging from China to Pakistan to Sri Lanka, is “easily harnessed by repressive and conservative forces, which, unlike earlier anti- dynastic nationalisms, have little interest in cross-national solidarities.” He continued to reflect, too, on the fate of the left:
For a long time, different forms of socialism—anarchist, Leninist, New Leftist, social-democratic—provided a ‘global’ framework in which a progressive, emancipationist nationalism could flourish. Since the fall of ‘communism’ there has been a global vacuum, partially filled by feminism, environmentalism, neo-anarchism and various other ‘isms,’ fighting in different and not always cooperative ways against the barrenness of neoliberalism and hypocritical ‘human rights’ interventionism. But a lot of work, over a long period of time, will be needed to fill the vacuum.
Anderson tells us that A Life Beyond Boundaries has two principal themes: “The first is the importance of translation for individuals and societies. The second is the danger of arrogant provincialism, or of forgetting that serious nationalism is tied to internationalism.” He was heartened by the fact that, in area studies, many young Japanese are now learning Burmese; young Thais, Vietnamese; and Filipinos, Korean. Such students, he says, “are beginning to see a huge sky above them”:
It is important to keep in mind that to learn a language is not simply to learn a linguistic means of communication. It is also to learn the way of thinking and feeling of a people who speak and write a language which is different from ours. It is to learn the history and culture underlying their thoughts and emotions and so to learn to empathize with them.
His memoir concludes with a coda about memory, technology, and poetry, in which his prime target is Google: “Google is an extraordinary ‘research engine,’ says Google, without irony in its use of the word ‘engine,’ which in Old English meant ‘trickery’ (as is reflected in the verb ‘to engineer’) or even ‘an engine of torture.’” Anderson frets that future generations may never know the actual feel of a book: “Japanese books are bound one way, Burmese books another.” Groupthink rules: “The faith students have in Google is almost religious.”
As a student, he was enthralled by the cadence and rhymes of poems he had memorized, such as Rimbaud’s “dizzying ‘Le Bateau ivre.’” Today, search has supplanted memorization: “One effect of ‘easy access to everything’ is the acceleration of a trend that I had already noticed long before Google was born: there is no reason to remember anything, because we can retrieve ‘anything’ by other means.”
The poems he memorized in his youth stayed with him always. In 2007, he was invited to Leningrad to assist with a class on nationalism for young teachers in Russian provincial universities. Addressing them, he remembered some Russian from his days at Eton and proceeded to recite the final stanza of a poem by Vladimir Mayakovsky, who perished, amid murky circumstances, in Moscow in 1930. To his astonishment, all of the students joined with him:
To the depth of the last day!
And to hell with everything else!
That’s my motto—
And the sun’s!
“I was in tears by the end,” recalls Anderson. “Some of the students, too.”