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The Green Room, Winter 1983


ISSUE:  Winter 1983

Twenty years ago—incredible as it I may now seem—a visitor to Atlanta, the city then boasting that it was “too busy to hate,” would have found one small hotel (in the convention Mecca of the region) and only two or three restaurants to which whites and blacks were accorded equal access. That same year—1963—in that same city on the very August day in which Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed his dream from the Lincoln Memorial, a white man and two black youths were found guilty of trespassing at a Baptist church, where their lawyer repeatedly noted they had been ejected by “the hospitality committee.” Still, the March on Washington constituted the high-water mark of the Civil Rights Movement and the year 1963 a milestone in its history. While the bulk of the credit for emancipating the South from Jim Crow must go to Reverend King and his followers, there was another group whose role cannot be ignored, namely, the Southern journalists who were covering and commenting upon events from May 17,1954 on. Both positively and negatively, they constituted a powerful and pervasive force in the struggle for Southern “hearts and minds.” Three of those journalists—two respected as liberals and one cherished by conservatives—are the principal figures in William C. Havard’s essay. The three are Hodding Carter, Jr., P. D. East, and James J. Kilpatrick, Jr. Himself a Southerner born and bred, Mr. Havard says that his piece evolved “from a long-term project on the self-interpretation of the South since the First World War, a project that fully occupies me at the moment.” Although he is currently on leave, the indefatigable Mr. Havard is professor and chairman of political science at Vanderbilt University, recently co-edited (1982) with Walter Sullivan A Band of Prophets: The Agrarians after Fifty Years, and will have yet another book forthcoming next fall entitled The Recovery of Political Theory: Limits and Possibilities.

With his place in the pantheon of poets apparently established, Robert Lowell has come under increasing critical scrutiny, largely favorable, since his death in 1977; and interest in the American poet seems likely to grow with the publication of Ian Hamilton’s Robert Lowell: A Biography. Thus Bruce Michelson’s insightful interpretation of “Lowell versus Lowell” comes at a propitious time. A student of modern American literature, who has previously published essays on such authors as Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Richard Wilbur, Mr Michelson is a member of the English faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received his undergraduate degree from Williams College and his Ph. D. from the University of Washington and was nominated for a Fulbright Scholarship to Greece for the 1982—83 academic year.

A frequent contributor of essays and book reviews to VQR, David Levin has now turned his talented hand to fiction. His VQR story was written while he was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, as part of a book with the provisional title, Exemplary Elders: Memoirs and Stories. Mr. Levin, the author of a critically acclaimed biography of Cotton Mather, is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.

Louis Simpson’s many awards include the Prix de Rome, the Millay Award, and the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. His most recent book of poems is Caviar at the Funeral. His other works include A Dream of Governors, At the End of the Open Road, and Selected Poems. A teacher as well as a poet and writer, Mr. Simpson has been a member of the State University of New York, Stony Brook since 1967.

Robert Louthan received his M.F.A. after participating in the original Goddard College Writing Program in 1978. He is a recipient of the Grolier Poetry Prize. A book of his poems entitled Shrunken Plants was published by Alice James Books in 1980, and a second volume, Living in Code, is due out this year from the University of Pittsburgh Press.

David Ignatow is the author of eleven books of poetry, the latest being Whisper to the Earth. He received the Bollingen Prize for poetry in 1977 and is both the Poet-inResidence at York College and president of the Poetry Society of America.

The author of Day One, a chapbook published in 1979, David Lehman has recent or forthcoming poems in Partisan Review, Paris Review, and Epoch. He edited Beyond Amazement: New Essays on John Ashbery, published by Cornell in 1980, and is seeking a publisher for his latest collection of poems.

Robert Schultz holds both an M.F.A. degree and a Ph.D. degree from Cornell University. His four sonnets in VQR are from a sequence entitled “Antarctica,” the first three of which appeared in the inaugural issue of The Cumberland Review.

After a distinguished career as a U.S. Foreign Service officer, John Bovey retired—and then began an entirely new career as a short story writer. Now living in Cambridge near his alma mater, Harvard, Mr. Bovey published his first collection of stories, Desirable Aliens, in December 1980 as part of Illinois’ Short Fiction Series. Another story, “Ernestine,” published in VQR in the spring of 1981, was subsequently awarded the Emily Clark Balch Prize for fiction that year.

Richard Predmore is an associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina at Spartanburg. He holds degrees in English from Swarthmore College (B.A.), the University of Virginia (M.A.), and the University of Florida (Ph.D.), his specialty being 19th-century American literature. Mr. Predmohe took a year’s leave of absence to enter the linguistic nevernever land of the bureaucracy as a writer/ editor in the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

From time to time, as in the case of Herbert Nicholas’s “Hail Our Britannic Bicentennial” (Summer 1976), VQR publishes essays which view history in ways rather at variance with what actually happened. In the instance of Mr. Nicholas, the objective was a spoof-piece about the Bicentennial. But in the case of Thaddeus Holt’s re-creation of the events taking the U.S. into the War of 1814—”Mr. Clay’s War”—the objective is serious, a re-creation of the time past that Mr. Holt calls “metahistory.” The article is an excerpt from a multivolume manuscript dealing with the history of North America had there been no Louisiana Purchase and no slaying of Alexander Hamilton. “Many “ifs” of history have been done before,” Mr. Holt writes, “but I can immodestly say that I don’t know of any that have been done with this much attention to feasibility—to actual history, actual political and economic conditions, to the personalities of real people, and to what logically could have happened.” A Rhodes Scholar and Harvard Law School graduate, Mr. Holt is a partner in the New York-Washington law firm of Breed, Abbott & Morgan.

A widely published short story writer (e.g., Esquire, Georgia Review, Sewanee Review), Barry Targan received the University of Iowa School of Letters Award in Short Fiction in 1975 for his collection, Harry Belten and the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. His novel, Kingdoms, published in 1980, won the Associated Writing Programs Award in the Novel.

This month marks the 50th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s ascension to power, and historian Hans A. Schmitt can truly say he was present at the creation of one of the most despicable dictatorships the world has ever known. Mr. Schmitt fled to this country in the 1930’s, served with the U. S. Armed Forces in World War II, and subsequently became a scholar of European history. He is a professor of history at the University of Virginia.

Stephen J. Whitfield’s interest in the cinema is reflected in his latest VQR contribution as well as in his current project, a book about film and book critic Dwight MacDonald. Mr. Whitfield is an associate professor in the American Studies department at Brandeis University.

A graduate of Harvard who studied under the subject of his review, Irving Babbitt, Anthony Netboy is now writing his memoirs and “among other things evaluating the kind of education I had at Northwestern, Columbia, and Harvard Universities.”

Cynthia Lewis is also a graduate of Harvard, where she received her Ph. D. degree in 1980. She joined the faculty at Davidson College that year and presently teaches Shakespeare and other Renaissance literature.

Miriam Tane is a free-lance writer whose work has appeared in such publications as The New Yorker and The New York Times. She is currently completing a novel.

James Gilbert is a professor at the University of Maryland, holds a Ph. D. degree from the University of Wisconsin, and is the author of four books, the latest being Another Chance: America after World War II.

A.James Arnold is a professor of French at the University of Virginia and recently published a book on Modernism and Negritude: The Poetry and Poetics of Aimé Césaire.

THE VIRGINIA QUARTERLY REVIEWStaige D.BlackfordEditorGregoryOrrPoetry Consultant

Advisory EditorW. W. AbbotJ. C. LevensonKenneth W. ThompsonIan StevensonG. Edward WhiteRoger ShattuckElisabeth R. Aaron, Business Manager

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