It was Hemingway’s longest and most popular novel about a war that once evoked emotions both fanatic and fierce. Yet today the causes and circumstances of what the Spanish once called nuestra guerra (“our war”) are largely forgotten even in Spain itself, and the novel Hemingway produced about the Spanish Civil War is probably best known for its title taken from John Donne—For Whom the Bell Tolls. That novel was published just over a half century ago in October 1940. Thus, as Michael Reynolds observes in his essay commemorating The Bell’s 50th anniversary, “it has already outlived its author, its war, and most of its original audience.” Even so, Mr. Reynolds concludes, “softly, across time, The Bell continues in muted tones to toll for us.”
A native Texan who received his B. A. degree from Rice University and his Ph. D. from Duke, Mr. Reynolds spent four years in the Navy (1961—65) as an air intelligence officer and wound up without a political home during the Vietnam War. “I resented the protests of those who had not been in combat,” he recalls, “I felt lied to by my country concerning the war and its goals.” Now the director of graduate studies for the English Department at North Carolina State University, Mr. Reynolds is completing a multi-volume biography of Hemingway, of which two volumes have been published, The Young Hemingway (1985, a finalist in the 1986 American Book Awards in nonfiction), and Hemingway: The Paris Years (1989).
As he notes at the outset of his essay, Eugene Paul Nassar planned to be a doctor when he arrived at Kenyon College in 1953, but a funny thing happened on the way to the M.D.: fired by John Crowe Ransom and others on the faculty, he turned to a career in literature instead. After graduating from Kenyon, he went as a Rhodes Scholar to Worcester College, Oxford, where he received his M.A. degree, and he subsequently earned a Ph. D. degree in English language and literature from Cornell University in 1962. Mr. Nassar is now a professor of English at Utica College of Syracuse University where he also serves as Director of the Ethnic Heritage Study Center. His books include Wallace Stevens: An Anatomy of Figuration (1965), The Rape of Cinderella: Essays in Literary Continuity (1970), and Essays: Critical and Metacritical (1983).
Although his fiction is appearing in the VQR for the first time, Sidney Sulkin is hardly a newcomer to the writing world. His books include Gate of the Lions, a verse play which won the Quarterly Review of Literature award; The Secret Seed, a collection of stories and poems; and The Family Man, a novel. His stories have appeared in such publications as Kenyon Review, Sewanee Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, TriQuarterly, and have also been included in Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories, and other anthologies. Mr. Sulkin’s poems have appeared in such magazines as Harpers, Quarterly Review of Literature, Literary Review, and Michigan Quarterly Review.
Debra Nystrom’s first collection of poems, A Quarter Turn, will be published by Sheep Meadow Press this spring. She lives in Charlottesville and teaches at the University of Virginia.
Cara Chamberlain is a lecturer in the English department at Purdue University. Her poetry has appeared or will appear in INTRO, Alaska Quarterly Review, High Plains Literary Review, Sequoia, and other magazines.
Wounded in Vietnam in 1971, Wes Ryan now tends bar in Florida not far from a veterans’ hospital. He writes when business is slow. He is 38 years old and lives alone.
Stephen Dunn has published eight collections of poetry. Poems from his most recent collection, Between Angels (Norton 1989) appeared in previous issues of VQR. His latest VQR poems are from his forthcoming collection, Landscape at the End of the Century, which Norton will publish in 1991.
A resident of Charlottesville, Judy Longley, is poetry editor for Iris: A Journal About Women published by the University of Virginia. Her chapbook, Parallel Lives, was published by Owl Creek Press.
Kathleen Norms recently completed a third collection from which her poems in this issue are taken. She has also published poetry in The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Paris Review.
Onetime scholar-athlete, James Axtell, who excelled in his youth at track and basketball, has now, in his words, “been reduced to volleyball with my graduate students in a city recreation league, having given up league basketball at 40.” The graduate students are among those Mr. Axtell teaches at the College of William and Mary where he is Kenan Professor of Humanities. He recently published After Columbus: Essays in the Ethnohistory of Colonial North America (Oxford 1988).
Author of the acclaimed Beulah Quintet, a five-volume series of historical novels beginning in 17th-century England and ending in 20th-century West Virginia (her native state), Mary Lee Settle won a National Book Award in 1977 for her novel, Blood Tie. She is also the author of Celebration, The Love Eaters, and The Kiss of Kin. Ms. Settle can also turn out a polished short story as well, as exemplified by “Dogs.”
Poet, short story writer, and essayist, Kelly Cherry is a member of the English Department at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Her VQR essay is excerpted from her forthcoming nonfiction work, The Exiled Heart: A Meditative Autobiography to be published by Louisiana this spring. It is a story about Ms. Cherry’s frustrating and futile attempts to proceed with her marriage plans to the Latvian composer, Imants Kalnins, whom she met at a cafe in the Hotel Metropol in the mid-60’s and whom she planned to marry a decade later—plans foiled by the KGB.
Frances S. Hoekstra is a professor of French at Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania, and has been writing poetry and short stories for some years. Her stories have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Winter Nights, and now in VQR.
Sydney Lea founded The New England Review and Bread Loaf Quarterly in 1978 and edited the magazine until 1989 when he resigned to be replaced by Terry Hummer, being “burned out by the relentless flow of mss.” His first novel, A Place In Mind, was published by Scribner’s in 1989, and the same house also brought out his fourth collection of poems, Prayer for the Little City, in January 1990. A former Guggenheim fellow, Lea also edited The Burdens of Formality, essays on the poetry of Anthony Hecht (Georgia 1989).
Louise Berliner began her career in newspaper journalism and has written a full-length biography of Texas Guinan which will be published by the University of Texas Press. More recently she has turned to fiction, and one result is “Seance.”
Having examined the earlier two novels in George Garrett’s Elizabethan trilogy— Death of a Fox and The Succession in his 1985 VQR essay, Monroe K. Spears now turns his attention to the third, Entered from the Sun, in his essay/review. Mr. Spears retired as the Moody Professor of English at Rice University in 1986 and moved to Sewanee, where he recently completed a new collection of essays, Between Two Worlds.
Long regarded as the dean of Virginia political reporters, James Latimer spent more than three decades covering Old Dominion politics for The Richmond Times Dispatch. Now retired, he still maintains a keen interest in Virginia politics as borne out by his discussion of the successful campaign of the nation’s first black governor, Douglas Wilder.
Greg Johnson teaches creative writing at Kennesaw State College outside Atlanta. He has a Ph. D. in American Literature from Emory University and is the author of two volumes of literary criticism as well as short fiction and poetry. His third book, a collection of short stories entitled, Distant Friends, was published last fall by the Ontario Review Press.
A free-lance writer living in Yuma, Arizona, Martin Lebowitz, has contributed essays and reviews to a variety of journals, with his main interest being in literature. Recent reviews have appeared in The Kenyan Review, and The Sewanee Review.
Guin A. Nance is vice chancellor for academic affairs and professor of English at Auburn University in Montgomery. She is the author of two critical studies, Aldous Huxley (1988), and Philip Roth (1981). She holds a doctorate in English from the University of Virginia.
J. A. S. Evans is professor of Classics and chairman of the department of Classics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He is the author of Herodotus, Explorer of the Past, which has just been published by Princeton.
Robert Zaretsky, who holds a Ph. D. in history from the University of Virginia, is an historian and teaching fellow in the University Honors Program at the University of Houston. He is working on a study of Catholic/Protestant relations in Southern France during World War II.
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