Carol Mavor once told me that my biggest fault is my absolute inability
to accept a compliment. I fear not only that she is right but that I am in-
capable of giving one effectively either. No doubt the problem is owing
to the admixture of a strong sentimental streak and a Germanic stoicism,
which, when combined, make me either silent about praise or sloppily
tearful. This I blame directly on my parents, who at least had the good
sense to give me a more useful legacy, a respect for education and a
strong interest in scholarship and writing. I share this legacy with my sis-
ters and brother, who are equally uncomfortable about recognition, but
who perhaps deserve it more than I. Most useful in this project has been
their unwarranted assumption that I would finish it.
Perhaps my trouble also lies with Carol Mavor herself, who has so
showered me with compliments that I can hardly take it anymore. I once
told her that the single defining feature of her character is excess, but it
is hardly a fault to be excessively kind, generous, intelligent, open, and,
yes, complimentary. One of Carol's most generous acts was to share Della
Pollock with me. Della has both complimented and complemented my
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