A new year seems a propitious time to survey the international scene, and thus VQR’s first issue of 1978 contains three articles dealing, respectively, with the future role of U.S. diplomacy, detente, and Scotch-Welsh nationalism.
America’s place in history and its international role in the 21st century may depend less on what futurologists foresee and more on the lessons to be learned from recent diplomatic practice and the philosophies underlying relations with the rest of the world, especially the Third World of the Southern Hemisphere. Kenneth W. Thompson, Commonwealth Professor of Government and International Affairs at the University of Virginia, is eminently qualified to examine the role of diplomacy in our third century of freedom. As vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation during the 1960’s and early 1970’s, he was concerned primarily with the foundation’s educational programs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. He has combined this on-going interest in the Third World with an equal interest in the moral dimensions of American foreign policy.
Like Kenneth Thompson, Charles Maechling, Jr. has long been concerned with the role of America in foreign affairs and particularly with relations between this nation and the Soviet Union. After practicing law in New York City and Washington during the 1950’s, he joined the State Department in 1961. He served as a special assistant to the under secretary for political affairs and later as a special assistant to the ambassador at large, who happened to be a Soviet specialist by the name of Averell Harriman.
Most Americans regard the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as just that— united—but the unity is strained not only in Northern Ireland. There are also increasing demands in Scotland and Wales for more autonomy, for more independence from the London that has long dominated the politics and policies of the British Isles. The separatist movements in Scotland and Wales are examined by Richard Jones, himself a native Welshman. “Still,” says Mr. Jones, “I can be objective about the controversial question of devolution.” His objectivity stems from long experience as a journalist, first as a newspaperman and later as a reporter for the BBC in Britain and in the Middle East. The versatile Mr. Jones is also the author of three novels and has recently completed a fourth, which is due to be published later this year. He has taught courses in creative writing at Stanford University and the University of Virginia and is now pursuing his craft of writing fiction and nonfiction in London.
“Naming Things” is the second story by H. E. Francis to appear in VQR. Mr. Francis teaches English literature at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and divides his life between the United States and Argentina. He won the 1973 Iowa School of Letters Award for Short Fiction for his collection, The Itinerary of Beggars. His story, “A Chronicle of Love,” appeared in Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize, and Best American Short Stories in 1976.
Modern poetry has been provoking controversy ever since the days of Eliot and Pound. There can be no question, however, that poetry is not much read today even in educated circles, despite the profusion of little magazines dedicated to the publication of poems. The reasons for this decline in the reading of poetry are examined by Christopher Clausen, and his conclusions are hardly likely to still the debate over the place of a poet in contemporary society. Mr. Clausen is well qualified to discuss the decline of poetry, since he is a poet himself. His poems have appeared in The Sewanee Review, Chicago Review, The Georgia Review, and many other magazines.
Lincoln Steffens was once acclaimed as the dean of American muckrakers, but it is the contention of Stephen Whitfield that Steffens was a muddled muckraker at best. “Steffens never quite made up his mind who he was,” Mr. Whitfield contends, “and he was very much a product of the heyday of American optimism, both with regard to the capacity of the American political process to reform itself and with regard to the blank check he was willing to write to whatever foreigners promised a drastic overhaul of their old system of stagnation and autocracy. My biography of Scott Nearing: Apostle of American Radicalism (1974) is a reflection of these concerns. . . . An incorrigible individualist in his own life, Nearing was a consistent supporter of the Soviet regime, as was Steffens.” Forsaking his early ambition to become a journalist, Mr. Whitfield is a member of the American Studies Department at Brandeis University, where he is currently doing research on a book about the impact of totalitarianism (both Nazi and Stalinist) upon American thought and politics. Such a work, he says, “is likely to include the phenomenon of “totalitarian liberalism,” of which Steffens was a prominent representative.”
Carolyn Forché’s first book of poems, Gathering the Tribes, was published in the Yale Younger Poets Series for 1976.
Lawrence Raab has published two books of poems, Mysteries of the Horizon and, most recently, The Collector of Cold Weather. He teaches at Williams College and has been the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship.
An editor of Green House, a magazine of poetry, Jane Kenyon will have her first book of poems published this year.
Carol Frost’s first book of verse, The Salt Lesson, has just been published by Graywolf Press. She has poems forthcoming in a number of magazines, including Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, and Poetry Now,
Kathleen Nohris is the author of Falling Off, a work of poetry published by Big Table/Follett. She now lives in Lemmon, South Dakota.
Ira Sadoff, who has previously published in VQR, teaches at Colby College in Maine. His second book of poems, Palm Reading in Winter, will be published by Houghton Mifflin this spring.
One of the nation’s better-known poets, Mark Strand has not one but two books due out this spring—a collection of poems entitled The Late Hour, to be published by Atheneum, and The Monument, to be published by Ecco Press.
Ralph Ketcham is one of the country’s foremost authorities on James Madison, having served as an associate editor and editor of The Papers of James Madison. His biography of Madison, published in 1971, was nominated for the National Book Award. He has also worked on The Papers of Benjamin Franklin and is the author of a biography of Franklin. A native of Ohio, Mr. Ketcham holds a doctoral degree from Syracuse University, where he has been a professor of history for the past decade.
When one of Evelyn Harter’s first stories, “Bosom of the Family,” about a homesick student from India, appeared in the Spring 1966 issue of VQR, she received letters which suggested that she make it the first chapter of a novel. After several more trips to India, she wrote it, ‘and the manuscript came to the attention of Kasturi Rangan, India correspondent for the New York Times, who asked for rights to serialize it in his literary magazine, Kanaiyazhi, in the Tamil language, and also in English in The journal of the Indian Housewife, where it is now running. Miss Harter has written some two dozen stories laid in India, Turkey, and America, which have appeared in American literary magazines.
Like the subject of his review—Richard Wright—Jerry Ward is a native of Mississippi. He is a member of the English Department at Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi.
Alonzo L. Hamby is a professor of history at Ohio University. He is the author of Beyond the New Deal: Harry S. Truman and American Liberalism and The Imperial Years: The United States since 1939. He is working at present on a study of American political leadership from FDR to Richard Nixon.
The former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, William C. Havard joined the faculty at Vanderbilt University last fall and is now serving as chairman of the Political Science Department there. A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he is a specialist in Southern politics and a devotee of political novels, particularly those with a Southern setting.
A native Alabamian, Carroll Kilpatrick was a newspaperman in Washington from 1940 through 1975, when he retired. At the time of his retirement, he was the White House correspondent for the Washington Post, which he joined in 1952, first as an editorial writer and later as a member of the national staff.”I was present,” he recalls, “when FOR announced lend-lease by talking about lending his garden hose to a neighbor whose house was on fire.”
Jeffrey Meyers, who teaches English at the University of Colorado, has a chapter on D’Annunzio in A Fever at the Core. His Married to Genius and Homosexuality and Literature have just appeared; and his biography of Katherine Mansfield is now in press.
A graduate of Amherst, Ronald Varney has taught English at St. George’s School in Newport, R. I. and the International School of Brussels. In addition to writing essays and short stories, he is now completing a novel.
Lewis Walker wrote his doctoral dissertation on Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens and received his doctoral degree from the University of Virginia last May. He is now a member of the English Department at North Carolina Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount.
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