REFLECTIONS IN A SILVER SPOON: A Memoir by Paul with John Baskett Mellon


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Life of the supermoneyed author, who turned in his banker's suit for life as an art collector and philanthropist; as told to his old friend and advisor Baskett, with some passages by Mellon himself. Mellon's life is vicariously exciting because of its ties with money--money in quantities he never bothers to measure but which the reader enjoys helping him spend or apportion. As a man, rather than a financial fountain, Mellon (now 85) is somewhat less exciting, though his problems keep a steady fascination throughout. Mellon's great-grandfather, grandfather, and father apparently were all stone-faced, emotionless men who gathered wealth by picking up businesses in distress or just underway, getting them on their feet, and then selling them--although coal and banking remained as stabilizers. The author, however, lost interest in finance while still in college. A few years later, he approached his elderly father and asked that he be released from the family grinding wheel and be allowed to spend his life as be found most rewarding. Dad became Secretary of the Treasury for 12 years while Mellon married a feisty but asthmatic woman, Mary Brown, with whom he entered into analysis in Zurich under Carl Jung himself. Not really an intellectual, Mary nonetheless founded the Bollingen Foundation and saw to the translation and publication of Jung in English--a huge job. Meanwhile, Mellon went off to WW II as an infantry officer, then returned to continue building the National Gallery of Art, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts--and get in some fox-hunting, horse racing, and book collecting. He is now retired. Smooth-running and lively.

Pub Date: April 20th, 1992
Page count: 440pp
Publisher: Morrow