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The Green Room, Autumn 1982


ISSUE:  Autumn 1982

The 1982 elections are just a few weeks away, and American voters once again are being subjected to barrages of bombast from all sides of the political spectrum. And if Campaign “82 is dominated by the economic issue of Reaganomics, it is also infused with the emotional issues stirred up by the religious right—abortion, creationism, prayer in public schools, tuition credits for private and parochial schools being among them. Religion has, of course, been a part of our history ever since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. The Founding Fathers thought religious freedom was so important that they guaranteed such freedom under the First Amendment to the Constitution. Still, if freedom has been the ideal for religion in America, intolerance has too often been the norm. The Know-Nothings of the 19th century are one example and robed descendants of the Ku Klux Klan another. Bigotry had much to do with the defeat of Democratic—and Catholic—presidential candidate Al Smith in 1928, and “dry messiahs” of the clergy were instrumental in bringing about the disastrous adoption of a constitutional amendment prohibiting alcohol. Yet whatever the role of religion in yesteryear, two factors led to the rise of the religious right today—television and the development of direct mail campaigns. Foremost among the “prime time preachers” is the Rev. Jerry Falwell, and some liberals see Falwell and his Moral Majority as a threat to the freedoms Americans have long cherished. Historian Stephen J. Whitfield does not share “the fears rampant in liberal precincts of imminent danger for the republic,” even though he does confirm “the logic of the liberal criticism of the New Right.” A member of the American Studies Department at Brandeis University, Mr. Whitfield is particularly concerned with the intersection of politics and ideas in the 20th century. His book, Into the Dark: Hannah Arendt and Totalitarianism, published in 1980, won the first Kayden Prize awarded by the University of Colorado for the best book published in the humanities by an academic press. Mr. Whitfield is now working on a book about critic Dwight Macdonald.

A prominent contemporary of Mr. Macdonald is Malcolm Cowley, and he is the subject of David E. Shi’s essay. Mr. Shi is especially interested in Cowley’s role in making New York City the literary center of America during the 1930’s. After receiving his doctorate in history from the University of Virginia, Mr. Shi joined the history department at Davidson College, where he is currently teaching. He is the author of a critically acclaimed biography of Matthew Josephson published last year by Yale.

One of the country’s more prolific novelists and short story writers, Nancy Hale published her first novel, The Young Die Good, in 1932. She was the first woman news reporter for the New fork Times and also served as an editor at Vogue and Vanity Fair in the 1930’s. Her many other books include Prodigal Women, The Sign of Jonah, The Empress’s Ring, Dear Beast, a series of essays on the Realities of Fiction, and a biography of Mary Cassatt. Her short stories have appeared in more than 40 anthologies, including the Foley and O. Henry collections.

Although he is a scholar of contemporary literature with a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley, David Wyatt also has a deep critical interest in American films. He recently joined the staff of the Virginia Endowment for the Humanities and Public Policy. He is author of Prodigal Sons: A Study in Authorship and Authority.

A native of Mississippi who received his undergraduate degree from Princeton, Walter R. Coppedge studied Elizabethan drama at Oxford University during his years there as a Rhodes Scholar. He later pursued this field at Indiana University and is now a professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University. In recent years, though, his interests have turned increasingly to film and “especially to a course which explores the relationship of myth and the movies.” Mr. Copfedge is planning a book on director Henry King, and he gratefully acknowledges the assistance of David Shepard of the Directors Guild of America in arranging for interviews with the late Mr. King. Further research for his article was funded by a grant from the Virginia Commonwealth University Grants-in-Aid Committee.

James Lott teaches English at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia. He recently completed a sabbatical devoted to putting together a book of short stories with the tentative title Children of God. Mr. Lott also recently became editor for the Spinal Cord Injury System of Virginia and is working on a monograph about employment for those with spinal cord injuries.

Jane Barnes has examined the writers Peter Taylor and John Updike, respectively, in previous essays for the Virginia Quarterly Review, both of whom are well known in American literary circles. The subject of her current essay, Richard Jones, is scarcely known at all. As Ms. Barnes clearly shows, he merits recognition both here and in the United Kingdom. A novelist as well as a critic, Ms. Barnes is the author of I, Krupskaya, a novel about the wife of the Soviet leader Lenin. Her second novel, Double Lives, a story set in a large vacation house in Rhode Island in the summer of 1966, was published by Doubleday in 1981.

Louis D. Rubin, Jr. is no stranger to the pages of VQR, but his previous appearances have been in the role of a critic rather than a creative writer. This time, though, the prolific Mr. Rubin is making his debut as a VQR short story writer. This is not, however, his first foray into fiction. His short stories have appeared in such publications as Southern Review, and his novel, Surfaces of a Diamond, was recently published by Louisiana.

Joan Titus, a former employee of Time, Inc., became a close friend of Lillian Smith during the last years of that Southern novelist’s life. She is now completing a biography of Miss Smith entitled Trembling Earth. Lillian Smith, 1897—1966, was one of the South’s most prominent writers in her time. Her many books include Strange Fruit, One Hour, Now is the Time, and Our Faces, Our Words. She was 68 when she died in her home at Clayton, Georgia, where she had lived for many years and where she had crusaded for civil rights for black Americans.

Leslie W. Dunbar served as executive director of the Southern Regional Council in Atlanta during the Council’s most turbulent years, 1961—65.

Paul Roazen is the author of Freud and His Followers and a professor of social and political science at York University, Toronto.

Lester A. Beaurline is a professor of English at the University of Virginia. He is now working on a critical edition of King John for the new Cambridge edition of the works of Shakespeare.

Norman Fiering is the author of Moral Philosophy at Seventeenth-Century Harvard: A Discipline in Transition and the editor of publications for the Institute of Early American History and Culture in Williamsburg.

An authority on American literature, Raymond Nelson is the author of a highly acclaimed biography of the American critic, Van Wyck Brooks.

A member of the English faculty at Emory University, Taffy Wynne Martin is completing a book-length study of Marianne Moore’s poetry and criticism.

Lucille Clifton”s books of poetry include Good News About the Earth and Two-Headed Woman, a recipient of the Juniper Prize. In addition to poetry, she has written a memoir entitled Generations, and she is also the author of 18 children’s books. Ms. Clifton teaches in Baltimore.

Tom Hansen, a resident of Aberdeen, South Dakota, is making his second appearance as a VQR poet.

A collection of Fhanz Whight”S poems has just been published by Pym-Randall Press, and it is entitled The One Whose Eyes Open When You Close Your Eyes. Mr. Whight has also published two collections of his translations of Rilke.

David Posner, who is appearing in VQR for the first time, is a poet who resides in Florida.

Ramona Weeks has held an NEA fellowship and served as a Mademoiselle guest editor the year following Sylvia Plath’s stint in that job. Her poems have appeared in Puerto del Sol, Dacotah Territory, and Poetry Northwest. She is a resident of Phoenix, Arizona.

John Bricuth is the author of The Heisenberg Variations. He has served in the U. S. Navy and worked for the National Aeronautics Space Administration.

L. Houle Gutierhez graduated from the University of Arizona with a B. A. in creative writing in 1977 and is making her first appearance in VQR. She has worked as a reporter for two Arizona newspapers.

Carol Oles has published poems in Poetry, Ploughshares, and Poetry Northwest, as well as in VQR, Her first book, The Loneliness Factor, was published in 1979 by Texas Tech University Press in cooperation with the Associated Writing Programs as part of its Series for Contemporary Poetry.

Gail Wronsky has an M.F.A. degree from the University of Virginia and has published a chapbook, “Dogland.” She is currently studying at the University of Utah.

THE VIRGINIA QUARTERLY REVIEWStaige D.BlackfordEditorGregoryOrrPoetry Consultant

Advisory EditorsW. W. AbbotJ. C. LevensonAdvisory EditorsKenneth W. ThompsonIan StevensonG. Edward WhiteRoger Shattuck

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