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The Poetry Factory: On Mass-Submission Culture

September 11, 2012

    Mail Boxes by Gregory Jordan / Flickr   It’s September, which means most American literary journals have lurched back to life after a customary three-month summer bender, and many writers—especially those still tied to [...]

The Richmond Debate of 1930

January 15, 2011

Head and shoulders portrait of Sherwood Anderson.


Sherwood Anderson, circa 1930.

On November 14, 1930—seventy-five years after the Battle of Appomattox and one full year into the Great Depression—Sherwood Anderson stood in front of a crowd 3,500 hundred people in the ex-Confederacy’s capitol to introduce a public debate over the economic future of the South. The Richmond Times-Dispatch was sponsoring the event—a debate, “Agrarianism versus Industrialism,” between VQR editor Stringfellow Barr and poet and critic John Crowe Ransom. Even before Anderson assumed the lectern, the evening had become an intellectual moment that had, in the words of Times-Dispatch editors, “assumed the proportions of national importance.”

At 8:30 P.M., the walls of the City Auditorium lined with latecomers and a “squad of Boy Scouts” who served as ushers, Anderson read a speech he had prepared for the event. Far from a simple introduction, Anderson’s address framed the debate, highlighted the speakers’ main points, and then offered the audience his take on the South’s “new industrial experiment.”

The Times-Dispatch, reporting on the debate the following day, focused mainly on Anderson’s critique of Sinclair Lewis, the recent winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, but the rest of Anderson’s introductory essay tackling the question of Industrialism vs. Agrarianism went largely uncovered. This speech is the work of a literary giant from the industrial North, living in the agrarian South, and introducing the “Agrarian” John Crowe Ransom who “isn’t a farmer” and the “Industrialist” Stringfellow Barr who “doesn’t manufacture anything.” Anderson presented the audience with a middle position. He was both fascinated and terrified by machines.

His words won thunderous approval from the audience, but they have never been published in full—until now.


Jean-Paul Sartre in VQR

January 5, 2011

 Jean-Paul Sartre, 1946. (Photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson)In October 1945, with the tumult of the Second World War and the repressive censorship of the Vichy regime newly ended, Jean-Paul Sartre founded a literary and political quarterly cal [...]

Robert Penn Warren in VQR

December 26, 2010

As one of American literary history’s most celebrated “Renaissance men”—tirelessly producing prodigious works of fiction, short fiction, and poetry, as well as essays and methodological studies—Robert Penn Warren was one of the leading vo [...]

How to Market a Novel

July 26, 2010

Indie publisher Melville House does it right. Their marketing of Hans Fallada's Every Man Dies Alone is a prime example.

A Week of Redesigns

May 6, 2010

Newsweek might be up for sale, but a half dozen prominent publications have unveiled new website designs this week.