The Farsightedness and Omissions of a Professed “Superfluous Man”: The Intellectual Journey of Albert Jay Nock

It is now nearly forty-five years ago that Albert Jay Nock’s intellectual autobiography was first recommended to me by a well-respected and graciously well-mannered “Epicurean Conservative” Professor at the University; and I was at once arrested by its title: The Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (1943). My first question to Professor John Shelton Reed was: “Why was he superfluous?”

Soon, with the help of Professor Reed, I was to discover some of those reasons. But I was still too young and callow and intellectually immature to understand Nock’s highly differentiated and tonally nuanced book in 1971, which was the first time I read it—and it may still be the case today after all these years and after so much earnest study on mine own.

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