James L. Guetti, Jr. '59

I am saddened to report the passing of another of our classmates, Jim Guetti.  Jim, 69, died January 11, 2007, at home in Leverett, MA, after a long illness.  Jim was born November 5, 1937, in Medford, MA, the son of James and Gladys (Cutter) Guetti.  He graduated from Lockwood High School in Warwick, RI, before becoming a member of our Class.

Jim, a Theta Delt, was the quintessential scholar athlete, lettering in football all four years as an offensive and defensive end during those years of one platoon and limited substitution football.  Jim also received his freshman numerals in track (I seem to recall him as a hammer thrower) and continued as a member of the team sophomore and junior years before joining the Rugby Club as a senior.

Jim majored in English and was a first rate reader and critic of literature (he was also a member of the editorial board of the literary magazine).  I suspect Jim had English I-II figured out in about one day.  His senior honors thesis on Conrad won a prize, was published and is apparently still available.  Lou Greer mentioned Jim’s “unforgettable question to Robert Frost during one of Frost’s visits to Theta Delt”: “Dr. Frost, could you capsule your life in a sentence or two?”  Frost’s answer was, “I see my life as a library, with books all around…but with an occasional window.”

After graduating, Jim taught for a year at Taft School, received his PhD in English from Cornell, was a visiting professor of English at Amherst in the spring of 1980 (and was warmly received and widely admired) and for thirty-six years was professor of English at Rutgers University.  His main publications include a novel, Action (1971); and his chief aesthetical works include Word Music (1980) and Wittgenstein and the Grammar of Literary Experience (1993); he also wrote major articles in journals such as Raritan, Philosophical Investigations and Philosophical Forum.  Lou Greer also indicated that he had talked with Jim in the past year or so about Jim’s autobiographical novel Silver Kings (2005) “because I was a character in it….Low Gear a persevering footballer.”  

Jim’s family, university colleagues and students said that his passions took him deep into diverse worlds: horse racing, philosophy, literary theory, cooking, trout fishing, teaching, fatherhood and fiction.

Jim is survived by his mother, Gladys; his wife, Laura; and his sons,Nicholas of Portland, OR, and Anthony ’04 of New York, NY.  He is also survived by his brother, Michael ’65.

—Skip Rideout ’59