To Daniel MacGhie Cory
Rome. May 27, 1939
I have written to “Settembrini” explaining that I might not go to Cortina so that he shouldn’t be alarmed if he found me absent when he arrived. I call him “Settembrini” after a personage in Thomas Mann’s novel The Magic Mountain (about a nursing-home at Davos) who is a Freemason bursting with eloquence about the principles of 1789, and the rights of man and of reason. My friend’s real name is Michele Petrone, and he is professor of Italian literature at the University of Berlin; but in spite of his humanitarian principles he bitterly hates almost everything that human beings do. He is a dreadful bore, but so appreciative of my philosophy (he is translating Platonism and the Spiritual Life) that I have to accept his society with thanks; and as we speak Italian together, I get lessons gratis in that language which I am more and more clumsy in every day.
From The Letters of George Santayana: Book Six, 1937-1940. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004.
Location of manuscript: Butler Library, Columbia University, New York NY