Best Intentions: The Education and Killing of Edmund Perry

Anson, Robert Sam

Vintage, 1988

pp. 106 - 108

Students at Phillips Exeter may compete to participate in the ‘Harkness Table,’ (106) a seven-by-eleven foot oval table . . . around which would sit no more than a dozen boys, who would learn their lessons not by rote but through argument, discussion, and interchange. (107) In The World According to Garp, a thinly-veiled commentary on Phillips Exeter, John Irving says: “Not only were certain kinds of arrogance tolerated by the (108) society of the Steering School [Irving’s name for it], certain kinds were encouraged; but acceptable arrogance was a matter of taste and style. What you were arrogant about had to appear worthy–of higher purpose–and the manner in which you were arrogant was supposed to be charming.” Charming arrogance!