A Position at the University

By Lydia Davis Lydia Davis
I think I know what sort of person I am. But then I think, But this stranger will imagine me quite otherwise when he or she hears this or that to my credit, for instance that I have a position at the university: the fact that I have a position at the university will appear to mean that I must be the sort of person who has a position at the university. But then I have to admit, with surprise, that, after all, it is true that I have a position at the university. And if it is true, then perhaps I really am the sort of person you imagine when you hear that a person has a position at the university. But, on the other hand, I know I am not the sort of person I imagine when I hear that a person has a position at the university. Then I see what the problem is: when others describe me this way, they appear to describe me completely, whereas in fact they do not describe me completely, and a complete description of me would include truths that seem quite incompatible with the fact that I have a position at the university.

Lydia Davis, “A Position at the University” from Almost No Memory, published by Picador. Copyright © 1997 by Lydia Davis. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. CAUTION: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

Source: Almost No Memory (Picador, 1997)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Lydia Davis

Subjects Activities, Jobs & Working, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Social Commentaries, Life Choices

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

 Lydia  Davis

Biography

Lydia Davis's many translations from the French include Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (Viking, 2010). Her new collection of stories is Can’t and Won’t (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014).

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Jobs & Working, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Social Commentaries, Life Choices

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.