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The Green Room, Spring 1975

ISSUE:  Spring 1975

THIS issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review marks the completion of fifty years of publication. In April 1925, under the founding editorship of James Southall Wilson, the VQR first appeared as “a national journal of discussion published in the South . . .peculiarly concerned with themes growing out of the life and problems of the people of the South and especially cordial to the work of able Southern writers, yet . . .in no sense a magazine of a section.” Its aim, now as then, is to be “liberal but reasonable; open to the discussions of all topics and to all stimulating and engaging points of view.”

Through fifty years, in a changing world, the Virginia Quarterly has held steadily to its purpose as a journal of independent thought. This anniversary number has been planned with the view of including only authors whose work has appeared in the magazine before and for whom we hold a special and high regard. The contributors represent many diversified and even conflicting points of view and manners of expression. Yet each has had a share in the VQR’s past as well as in its present.

“The Great Re-Awakening” is by Harry S. Ashmore, who since 1967 has been a Senior Fellow and Executive Vice-Président of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara, California. In 1955, when he wrote “An Epitaph for Dixie” for the thirtieth anniversary number, he was editor of the Arkansas Gazette and in the forefront of the Little Rock school integration controversy.

In July 1925 Gerald W. Johnson took “A Tilt with Southern Wind-Mills” in the Virginia Quarterly. Here he comments on “The End of the Beginning” and further writes: “There is, perhaps, a morbid interest in the fact that at eighty-four I have lived into the most fascinating period of American history since the Civil War, but in the course of nature it is not to be expected that I shall live long enough to see how it all comes out—the acme of futility.”

In the first issue of the Virginia Quarterly a young scholar by the name of Dumas Malone reviewed a book with the title of “History of the American Frontier.” For this issue he has written an account of “The Scholar’s Way: Then and Now.” Mr. Malone is now at work on the sixth and final volume of his comprehensive life of Jefferson. “During my long life,” he writes, “I’ve been in an advantageous position to view scholars. I dealt with all varieties of them (during fourteen years) as editor of the Dictionary of American Biography and director of the Harvard University Press. At that time I used to say, in semi-jocularity, that I was one of the world’s authorities on professors. As such I said much about self-criticism and self-restraint. Having written upwards of a million words on Jefferson, I may be charged with disregard of my own counsel. But, believe it or not, one of my reviewers said that I wasted no words! I leave it to you to resolve this seeming contradiction.”

The Green-Room’s first account of Louis J. Halle, identifying him as a graduate student of anthropology at Harvard, was in the Spring issue of 1938, which contained an essay by him on bird migration. Since then he has had a long career as an official of the state department in Washington, has been research professor of foreign affairs at the University of Virginia, and for the past nineteen years has been professor at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. He has also appeared in the VQR repeatedly since 1938 and the total of his published books has risen to fifteen. They include human history (“The Cold War as History”), natural history (“The Sea and the Ice: A Naturalist in Antarctica”), and political philosophy. The persistence of his interest in the moral paradox that is the theme of “O.K.” is attested by his extended philosophical treatment of it in his “Men and Nations,” first published in 1962.

In “Why the Southern Renaissance?” C. Vann Woodward quotes from his essay, “The Historical Dimension,” which appeared in the Spring 1956 issue of the Virginia Quarterly. This current article deals with the history of the Southern Renaissance in letters and is mainly an analysis of historical theories about its genesis, theories attempting to explain why and how it originated, together with some speculations of his own on the subject. Mr. Woodward is currently on leave from Yale and is spending a good part of that time in South Carolina, sitting in the Caroliniana Library and reading manuscript collections.

“Answer to Prayer” is a very recent poem by Robert Penn Warren, whose first contribution to the Virginia Quarterly, in 1935, was an essay entitled “John Crowe Ransom: A Study in Irony.” Some of his stories and other poems have also appeared here.

From 1939 on, numerous poems by Richard Eberhart have been published here. “Incidence of Flight” is a new one. This spring Mr. Eberhart is teaching at Columbia and next fall he will be at the University of California at Davis. A new edition of his “Collected Poems,” with about one hundred poems added since the edition of 1960, will soon appear in London and New York.

Philip Booth, who here contributes “The Way Tide Comes,” was born in the same year as the VQR.Rejuvenated by becoming a grandfather, he is completing his fifth book of poems, “Available Light.”

Poems by Ben Belitt have been appearing in the VQR since 1932, when he was a student at the University of Virginia. Sometimes he has been represented by translations of such poets as Federico Garcia Lorca, Jorge Guillen, and Pablo Neruda, but most frequently the poems, like “Glare,” are his own. He is completing a new volume of verse called “The Invisible Edge.” He has spent part of the past two winters in Yucatan, pyramid-hopping among the Maya. He thinks that like Sicily it out-temples the Parthenon and makes Athens seem like a pedant’s exercise in perfection.

To Hayden Carruth “The Little Fire in the Woods” “is a risky poem, touching on areas of sentiment, in both substance and diction, that would be conventionally classified as sentimentality, and I know that a great many of my contemporaries as well as the younger poets would reject it out of hand and scornfully. I hope that I have succeeded in transcending sentimentality and making the poem work as a genuine esthetic experience; in my own mind I have. But of course I cannot tell how it will strike other people.” A new book by Mr. Carruth, “The Bloomingdale Papers,” has just been published and he is now at work on a sequence of poems called “Paragraphs.”

Two books of poems by Donald Hall will come out later this spring: “The Town of Hill,” in which there will also appear “The Little Town” from this issue of the VQR, and in London a collection called “A Blue Wing Tilts at the Edge of the Sea,” which is in effect selected poems of 1964 through 1974.Recently a new play by Mr. Hall, called “Bread and Roses,” was produced in Ann Arbor. His last play was “An Evening’s Frost,” which played in New York for a few months in 1965.

William Stafford’s first poem in the VQR was “Beaver People” in 1962.In this issue “Wovoka’s Witness” invokes the name of the founder of the Indian “Ghost Dance” movement. Mr. Stafford has published five books of poems, ranging from “Traveling through the Dark” in 1962 to “Some Day, Maybe” in 1973.

Julian Green an American of Southern descent born in France and resident there for most of his life, is a member of the Académie française. He was elected unanimously to Chair No.22, formerly occupied by Francois Mauriac. Mr. Green’s first sojourn in the United States was as a student at the University of Virginia just after the First World War. Most of his writing is in French, except for “Memories of Happy Days,” which, as well as the later “Terre lointaine,” recounts his early Virginia experience, as does “A Fragment of the Past.”

Before turning to novel-writing, Richard Hughes had seemed all set for a career as a playwright: his first play had a London West-End production while he was still an undergraduate at Oxford and another was seen on Broadway. But at the early age of twenty-four he turned his back on the theatre, hankering after the more direct contact between writer and public which the novelist enjoys. In the fifty years which have elapsed since then, however, he has published only four volumes, the latest of which are “The Fox in the Attic” and “The Wooden Shepherdess,” two of a projected trilogy, though perhaps his earliest novel, “A High Wind in Jamaica,” is the best known. Like that book, his reminiscence, “Eheu Fugaces . . .,” is keyed to the response of children to the world around them.

“A Sequence of Stanzas” was read by Allen Tate on the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday, November 19, 1974, which was celebrated at a dinner in his honor at Sewanee on November 15. Mr. Tate’s first appearance in the VQR was in 1927, but poems and essays by him have been published here frequently ever since then, including both a poem and an essay in the tenth anniversary number in 1935.

A story, “The End of Play,” marked Peter Taylor’s first publication in the Virginia Quarterly in 1965, but another story and a play, “The Whistler,” followed, all preceding the appearance here of “Three Heroines,” one or a whole book of pieces done in the same form, more or less.

Although “Commencing” can stand independently, it is actually the start of Book Two of a three-book novel called “The Surface of Earth,” which will be published later this year. This is a novel which Reynolds Price planned for ten years before beginning, and the writing of it took a steady three years. The novel concerns itself with the entanglement of two families in North Carolina and Virginia in the years 1903—1944 and is, he says, his largest book— in more than one sense, he hopes.

Cleanth Brooks is spending this spring in the Southern Studies Program at the University of South Carolina, which he finds an excellent place in which to work on Faulkner or any other Southern author. “Faulkner’s Criticism of Modern America” is his contribution to the VQR’s fiftieth anniversary issue. Earlier he contributed “The Modern Southern Poet and Tradition” to the magazine’s tenth anniversary number.

Since 1958 poems, short stories, and essays by Howard Nemerov have appeared in the VQR. “Poetry and History” in this issue is part of a series of essays, one of which has already been published. Mr. Nemerov’s “Collected Poems” will be published in 1976, but, he says, he has been writing poetry recently at a rate and pitch he never thought nor hoped to experience again, so there may be a new book before the “Collected Poems.”



Advisory Editors William S. Weedon Ian Stevenson Fredson Bowers Robert Jennings Harris W. W. Abbot J. C. Levenson Bernice C. Maddox, Business Manager


A National Journal of Literature and Discussion published since 1925 in January, April, July, and October. Subscription rates; one year, $7.00; two years, $12.00; three years, $15.00. Canadian postage, 50 cents a year; foreign postage $1 a year. Single copies, $2.00. Title page and annual index available in November.

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