My short piece in the Chronicle Review (paywalled, alas, but here’s a PDF), on C.P. Snow’s The Masters (1951):

What Snow captures is the outsize role pride plays in faculty life. We are, nearly all of us, vulnerable like this — a single snub is enough. We live in a hothouse of peer esteem, poised for humiliation, our dignity always in question. Snow shows this — or, rather, he tells it, through paragraphs of psychological portraiture. It’s this tell-not-show realism that struck Leavis as ponderous and cringeworthy. But Leavis is wrong: What’s best about The Masters is its sharply observed phenomenology. This is how the book transcends the cloistered male world of an unnamed Cambridge college in the late 1930s — why it feels fresh, even contemporary.

The piece—whose headline should be “Academic Life is About Injured Pride”—is really a footnote off of Vivian Gornick’s brilliant 2021 Harper’s essay “‘Put on the Diamonds’:Notes on Humiliation.”