If Edmund Wilson was one of this century’s most prolific—and provocative—literary critics, he was an equally proficient letter writer, as a selection of his Letters on Literature and Politics, 1912—1972 clearly attests. Selected and edited by Elena Wilson, with an introduction by Daniel Aaron and foreword by Leon Edel, the letters are now available in a Farrar, Straus & Giroux paperback edition [$8.95], As Wilson is valued as an American writer, so Cicero is esteemed as the noblest Roman orator of them all. Readers unacquainted with Cicero’s mastery of Latin and majesty of style may become so by acquiring a copy of his Letters to Atticus, a new Penguin classic [$5.95]. The first in a proposed three-volume translation of Cicero’s extant correspondence (a collection of 900 letters published posthumously), the Atticus epistles were translated by Harvard classicist D. R. Shackleton Bailey, who has also written an introduction and bibliographical note. Russell Kirk’s John Randolph of Roanoke: A Study in American Politics, first published by Chicago in 1951 and republished by Henry Regnery Company in 1964, has been issued in a third edition by Liberty Press [hardback $9.00, paperback $3.50]. The new edition has appendices containing several of Randolph’s most important speeches—hitherto unavailable in book form—and a representative selection of his letters, some never published before. Another Virginian, the most saintly of her saints, the most revered of her heroes, is the subject of Thomas L. Connelly’s The Marble Man, the man being Robert E. Lee. A study of Lee and “his image in American society,” the book received widespread critical acclaim when first published last year by LSU Press, also the publisher of the recent paperback edition [$5.95]. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Southerner whose influence on American history may well surpass that of Lee, and his life is examined in a paperback edition of King, a biography by David Levering Lewis reissued by Illinois [$5.95]. Only one English king has borne the name of John—and for good reason, as W. L. Warren explains in a new edition of King John released by California [$15.00 hardback, $4.95 paperback]. Vintage has reprinted Jessica Mitford’s lively, laughable account of her association with the American Communist Party in the 1950’s, which she recalls as A Fine Old Conflict [$4.95]. Bantam has republished Preminger, the autobiography of a flamboyant filmmaker and skirtchaser [$2.25].
Americans may have lost only one war —Vietnam—but they have been the vanquished in numerous battles, and two of their more notable defeats are recounted in recent paperback reprints. The first is Walter Lord’s A Time to Stand, the time being March 6, 1836 and the place being the Alamo. Lord’s “epic of the Alamo” has been republished by Nebraska [$3.95]. Forty years after the Alamo, another group of Americans was wiped out to a man in what was to be long noted and much remembered as “Custer’s last stand.” It is described anew in Mari Sandoz’s The Battle of the Little Bighorn, a Bison Book [$3.25].The Legacy of Sacco and Vanzetti was called “a definitive history” of the controversial case when it first appeared. Co-authored by Louis Joughin and Edmund M. Morgan, the work has been reissued as a Princeton paperback [$5.95]. Studs Terkel’s Hard Times, an “oral history of the Great Depression,” is available as a Quokka Book from Pocket Books [$2.75]. Chicago has a paperback edition of Friedrich A. Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty, which a Newsweek reviewer called the 20th-century “successor to John Stuart Mill’s essay, “On Liberty” ” [$7.95]. Another recent Chicago paperback is the second edition of Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab’s The Politics of Unreason, which analyzes “Right-Wing Extremism in America” from 1790 to 1977 [$7.95]. A third Chicago paperback is William I. Schreiber’s Our Amish Neighbors, illustrated by Sybil Gould [$5.95].
Zuleika Dobson, Max Beerbohm’s sprightly story of Edwardian days at Oxford, first published in 1911, is available anew from Dodd, Mead [$6.95 hardback]. One of Shelby Foote’s early novels, Follow Me Down, has been republished by Random House [$8.95 hardback]. Foote’s fellow Southerner, Eudora Welty, authored two recent Vintage Books, Losing Battles [$2.45] and The Optimist’s Daughter [$1.95]. Scribner’s is offering a fictional feast for Edith Wharton fans in The Edith Wharton Omnibus [$12.50], Introduced by Gore Vidal, the omnibus contains three famous Wharton works, Ethan Frame, The Age of Innocence, and Old New York. Recent Bantam reprints include Philip Roth’s The Professor of Desire [$2.50] and Terry Kay’s The Year the Lights Came On [$1.75]. Nobel Prizewinner Isaac Bashevis Singer’s collection of stories, Gimpel the Fool, is a new Farrar, Straus & Giroux paperback [$4.95]. Pocket Book novels include A. J. Cronin’s The Green Years [$1.95], John Gregory Dunne’s True Confessions [$2.50], Judith Rossner’s Attachments [$2.50], John Sayles’s Union Dues [$2.50], and Sylvia Wilkinson’s A Killing Frost [$1.75]. The collected mysteries of Edgar Box (a.k.a. Gore Vidal), Three by Box, has been brought out in hardback by Random House, the three being Death in the Fifth Position, Death before Bedtime, and Death Likes It Hot [$12.95]. Scarecrow Press has reprinted Sherwood Anderson’s Many Marriages as a critical edition edited by Douglas G. Rogers [$10.00 hardback].
Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji, written in the 11th century, has a place in Japanese literature comparable to that of Don Quixote in Spanish and Shakespeare’s plays in English. Considered the greatest masterpiece of Japanese prose narrative and perhaps the world’s first true novel, The Tale of Genji was superbly translated by Edward G. Seidensticker in a two-volume work that was published in 1976.The two volumes have now been combined into one handsome paperback by Knopf [$10.00].The Wound and the Bow: Seven Studies in Literature, a selection of early Edmund Wilson essays ranging from Dickens to Sophocles, has been republished in paperback by Farrar, Straus & Giroux [$4.95]. Robert Pinsky examines The Situation in Poetry: Contemporary Poetry and Its Traditions in a recent Princeton paperback [$3.95]. A new hardback edition of Byron’s Poetry, selected and edited by Frank D. McConnell, has been added to the Norton Critical Edition series [$12.95]. The Russian poet, Mandelstam, is the subject of a Cambridge paperback offering by Clarence Brown [$9.95], Paperback editions of works by three major American poets—Ezra Pound, Robert Penn Warren, and Robert Lowell—have recently appeared. Pound’s ability as a translator is reflected in a New Directions volume, Love Poems of Ancient Egypt, translations he made with the aid of Noel Stock [$2.95]. Warren is represented by Now and Then: Poems 1976—1978, published by Random House [$4.95 paperback, $8.95 hardback], while Farrar, Straus & Giroux has reprinted Lowell’s Day by Day, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry [$4.95], Chicago has a paperback edition of The Literatures of India by Edward C. Dimock, Jr. and others [$6.95]. Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, edited by N. W. Bawcutt, is the latest drama to appear in Johns Hopkins Revels Plays series [$15.00 hardback].
André Malraux’s The Voices of Silence, a history of art ranging from Sung China to Cézanne, has now been translated by Stuart Gilbert and published as a work in Princeton’s Bollingen Series [$40.00 hardback, $9.95 paper].