Peter Beagle


I always come back from visiting with Jack knowing more about all kinds of things— especially poetry—than I set out with. Jack’s a scholar and a born teacher, while I'm a born storyteller with a ragbag, magpie kind of mind; there's a difference. He sends me his essays and articles regularly (along with copies of CDs of singers and old forgotten musicals he knows I’d like), and I’m invariably amazed at the depth and variety of his analyses. I know a great deal about the plays and poetry of Bertholt Brecht, for instance, but I could never have written anything like Jack’s study of the Brecht-Weill opera Mahagonny. At all times, however, whether in person, performing with his wife Adelle, or broadcasting on KPFA, he remains as absurdly funny as he is perceptive and concerned. He’s a perfect example of Gilbert and Sullivan's dictum in their operetta The Yeomen of the Guard:

When they're offered to the world in merry guise,
Unpleasant truths are swallowed with a will—
For he who'd make his fellow, fellow, fellow creatures wise
Must always gild the philosophic pill.

               —Peter Beagle