It has now been just over a half-century since Margaret Mitchell first introduced the world to Scarlett, Rhett, Melanie, Ashley, and all the other inhabitants of a land Gone with the Wind. And by this time in 1936 her epic of Georgia during the Civil War and Reconstruction had captivated an America still reeling from the Great Depression, With the appearance of the movie version of the novel in 1939, Gone with the Wind became a permanent part of America’s cultural scene—and not just America’s. Even today, after more than 50 years, Mitchell’s book still attracts readers from Manhattan to Moscow, from downtown Atlanta to the heartland of Asia. Yet despite its perennial popularity and the size of Mitchell’s continuing readership, Darden Asbury Pyron observes, “scholars and critics still wrestle inconclusively with the sources and implications of the novel’s popularity, the meaning and significance of the work itself, and its place in literary or intellectual history.” The reason for this, Mr. Pyron believes, is that—with the notable exception of Louis Rubin, dean of Southern letters—the critics “have not examined the novel in the specific context of its time.” This Mr. Pyron does in his perceptive VQR essay.
While Mr. Pyron, an associate professor of history at Florida International University in Miami, is now an acknowledged authority on Gone with the Wind, he did not read the novel—as so many do—at an early age. Indeed, this native South Carolinian was well on his way to getting a Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia before he encountered Scarlett and company in print. That was only because he was planning a course in Southern history in 1973 at Florida International. “I had never even read the thing,” he writes. “I did in preparation. . . . I had this image from the film of long-suffering, spunky nobility of Southern womanhood and got, whoo-boy, Scarlett O’Hara instead.” And, in Rick’s immortal words to Louie at the end of Casablanca, it was “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” The editor of Recasting: Gone with the Wind in American Culture published by the University of Florida Presses in 1983, Mr. Pyron is now completing “a very full biography” of Margaret Mitchell, whom he finds “more interesting than her book.”
The dilemma facing American medicine today is simple to state and seemingly impossible to solve: how can the costs of care be reduced without reducing the quality of that care? The causes of what he calls “the seemingly uncontrolled medical inflation in America” are examined by Dr. Lockhart B. McGuire, Julian R. Beckwith Professor of Medicine in the department of cardiology at the University of Virginia. A direct descendant of Dr. Hunter McGuire, the chief of surgery for the Army of Northern Virginia, Dr. McGuire received his M.D. degree from Virginia in 1957. He later trained at Peter Brigham Hospital in Boston and then served as a U.S. Navy officer attached to the U.S. Naval Hospital at Chelsea, Massachusetts. He joined the faculty of the University of Virginia Hospital in 1964. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Cardiology and the author of numerous articles and studies pertaining to heart disease. Dr. McGuire is a former president of the Albemarle County Medical Society and a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honorary Medical Fraternity. A physician with a strong literary bent, Dr. McGuire says he “would have tried to be a writer, except that being a doctor is easier and less important.”
Appearing as a VQR poet for the first time, Ross Taylor has previously published poems in such magazines as Shenandoah, Phoebe, Greensboro Review and Southern Poetry Review. He is a member of the staff of the Library of Congress.
Thomas Johnson, also making his VQR debut, is a Tennessee poet.
Carolyne Wright has recently completed a new collection of poems entitled The Custody of the Eyes and it was a National Poetry Series finalist in 1985. Her chapbook, From a White Woman’s Journal, appeared in 1985 in the Water Mark Press Award Series. Her poems have appeared in Poetry and the Missouri Review, as well as in the anthology, Blood to Remember: Armenian Poets on the Holocaust.
Reg Saner teaches Renaissance literature at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is the author of Essay on Air, a collection of poems with Italian and Colorado backgrounds. He has work forthcoming in The Yale Review, Ironwood, and Round Table.
Richard McCann has published stories in The Atlantic Monthly, and his poems have appeared recently in Shenendoah and Poetry Northwest. He is a member of the faculty at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Mark Rubin’s poems have appeared in numerous periodicals, including VQR, Antaeus, The Nation, and North American Review. He is a resident of New York City, where he works as a free-lance writer.
Katherine Kane is a previous VQR poet.
David Dwyer is a native New Yorker but has lived since 1974 in Lemmon, South Dakota, where, among other things, he has served two two-year terms on the City Council. The poet/politician is the author of Other Men and Other Women, which will be published this year by Sandhills Press.
The essay on “John L. Sullivan, the Champion of All Champions” is excerpted from Elliott J. Gorn’s The Manly Art: Bare-Knuckle Prize Fighting in America, a book that will be published late this year by Cornell. The Manly Art traces the roots of modern prize fighting back to the bare-knuckle days of the 19th century. As Mr. Gorn notes in his Sullivan essay, the great John L. came into the public eye just as a leisure revolution was beginning in this country. One result of that revolution was the commercialization of sports and the development of what we today know as the sports page of the American newspaper. Mr. Gorn is assistant professor and director of the American Studies program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He wishes to thank Arthur D. Casciato for his editorial advice.
Alyson Carol Hagy, a recent winner of the Hopwood Prize for Fiction at the University of Michigan, is teaching that subject there this fall. A native Virginian, she is a graduate of Williams College. Her first collection of stories Madonna on Her Back was published by Stuart Wright Inc. this fall.
Scott Donaldson, Cooley Professor of English at William and Mary, is the author of biographies of Winfield Townley Scott, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald. He is now completing a biography of John Cheever, with the aid of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant. He is also the author of The Suburban Myth. Mr. Donaldson is a member of the Editorial Board of American Literature.
A frequent VQR contributor and former recipient of the Balch Prize for Fiction, Kent Nelson reports that his story “Invisible Life,” which appeared in the Winter 1985 issue, has been selected by Shannon Revenel and Raymond Carver to appear in the Best American Short Stories of 1986. Mr. Nelson also has a story forthcoming in the Missouri Review and recently received a grant from the Ingram-Merrill Foundation to support him as he completes a novel.
The essay by Robert Schultz and David Wyatt is partially derived from Mr. Wyatt’s latest book, Fall Into Eden: Landscape and Imagination in California, which Cambridge is publishing this fall. Mr. Wyatt examines Snyder’s whole career, while Mr. Schultz focuses on his latest book of poetry. Mr. Wyatt is a member of the staff for the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities located in Charlottesville. He is the author of Prodigal Sons: A Study in Authority and holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Mr. Schultz is a member of the English faculty at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He has published a chapbook of poems entitled Vein Along the Fault.
Jane Bradley teaches English at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg. Her fiction has appeared in Crazyhorse, Columbia, and Sou’wester, and she has stories forthcoming in The North American Review and Kansas Quarterly.
A master of the familiar essay, Samuel Pickering, Jr. is one of VQR’s more prolific contributors. He is a professor of English at the University of Connecticut and has also taught at Dartmouth College and in the Middle East as a Fulbright Scholar.
A native of Wales who now lives in London, Richard Jones is a former journalist and the author of several novels. He is also a critic of contemporary British literature.
Philip F. Gura will join the English faculty at the University of North Carolina next year and is the author of A Glimpse of Sion’s Glory: Puritan Radicalism in New England 1620—1660. He is now with the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Ashley Brown is a professor of English at the University of South Carolina and editor of several books, the most recent being The Poetry Reviews of Allen Tate, 1924—1944.
John Lewis Longley, Jr. is a professor of humanities in the Engineering Humanities Division of the School of Engineering at the University of Virginia and a critic and fiction writer.
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