We Write for Our Own Time: Selected Essays from Seventy-Five Years of the Virginia Quarterly Review

We Write for Our Own Time: Selected Essays from Seventy-Five Years of the Virginia Quarterly Review


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We Write for Our Own Time: Selected Essays from Seventy-Five Years of the Virginia Quarterly Review by Alexander Burnham

In 1925, Edwin A. Alderman, president of the University of Virginia, fulfilled a long-held dream by establishing a magazine at the institution founded by Thomas Jefferson just over one hundred years earlier. Not only did Alderman initiate publication of the Virginia Quarterly Review, he contributed an essay to its inaugural issue.

Appearing as the first selection in this new volume of nonfiction from the VQR, Alderman's "Edgar Allan Poe and the University of Virginia" reflects the rare combination of literary sensibility and immersion in the political and social issues of the day, which has characterized the journal throughout its seventy-five-year history. As Alderman writes, "I may be frank and say that there was a time when Poe did not greatly appeal to me. I felt the sheer, clear beauty of his song..., but his detachment from the world of men, where my interests most centered, left me unresponsive and simply curious.... I have come, however, to see the limitations of that view, and to behold something admirable and strange and wonderful in this proud, gifted man."

While the style and diction of the contributions have changed in the years since that first spring issue, a similar clarity of thought, deep intelligence, candor, and command of language can be found in every one of the fifty one essays assembled here by Alexander Burnham. From its home at One West Range, a few doors down from Poe's own room, the VQR has welcomed to its pages scholars such as Dumas Malone and Robert Coles, and writers whose books have become international bestsellers, including Arthur C. Clarke and Frances Mayes.

Included here are some of the twentieth century's most brilliant thinkers and stylists, such international literary, political, and intellectual figures as Andre Gide, D. H. Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, Evelyn Waugh, T. S. Eliot, Eleanor Roosevelt, Thomas Mann, Jean-Paul Sartre, Bertrand Russell, and Robert Graves. George F. Kennan muses on "The Experience of Writing History," Henry Steele Commager asks "Do We Have a Class Society?," and Edmund S. Morgan considers the aloof character of George Washington. Carlos Baker tracks Ezra Pound through Venice, and Scott Donaldson ponders "The Jilting of Ernest Hemingway." These leading lights share space, as they do in every volume of the journal, with lesser-known but no less talented writers ruminating on the Battle of the Bulge, the Berlin Wall, the Bomb, and Vietnam, on growing up in Hollywood and living in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Writers of the South are fittingly represented by Thomas Wolfe, Mary Lee Settle, and Louis D. Rubin Jr., but a quick scan of the table of contents reveals that the VQR has never been a regional magazine. As the current editor, Staige D. Blackford writes in his preface, "Since its inception, the Virginia Quarterly Review has tried to offer its readers a variety of essays on a variety of topics ranging from foreign affairs to domestic politics, from literature to travel, from sports to sex, from music to medicine."

On the occasion of its seventy-fifth anniversary, We Write for Our Own Time amply and entertainingly reflects what the VQR's masthead has always proclaimed as its identity: "A National Journal of Literature and Discussion."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813919836
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
Publication date: 03/29/2000
Pages: 463
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Alexander Burnham, a frequent contributor to the VQR, has worked as a staff writer and editor of the New York Times and as managing editor of a New York publishing house.

Table of Contents

The Nineteen Twenties
Edgar Allan Poe and the University of Virginia3
Codfish Chowder and Sun8
The Bogey between the Generations15
The Nineteen Thirties
Tragedy and the Whole Truth21
The Myth of Myth28
The Rough Life32
Personality and Demonic Possession38
Old Catawba45
Keepers of Democracy52
The Nineteen Forties
Thinking and Living59
A Meal in Anacapri63
We Write for Our Own Time67
The Bubble Reputation73
The Nineteen Fifties
Mice: A Dispassionate View83
George Bernard Shaw90
The Human Side of Woodrow Wilson95
The Anti-Shakespeare Industry and the Growth of Cults105
The Nineteen Sixties
The Experience of Writing History119
Shaw and the Sound Barrier124
Do We Have a Class Society?131
Space-Travel on the Lake of Geneva138
Einstein: Personal Reminiscences141
How to Hold the Reader's Attention145
The Nineteen Seventies
... And the Pursuit of Happiness153
Hegel's Logic: The Philosophy of the Concrete172
Thomas Jefferson and the Italian Renaissance183
The Struggle to Create a University192
Pound in Venice, 1965201
The Scholar's Way: Then and Now207
George Washington: The Aloof American217
Attitudes toward Sex234
Alfred Tennyson as a Poet for Our Time241
The Nineteen Eighties
A Splendid Day257
The Berlin Wall: A Memoir267
Walden's Man of Science275
Did You Once See Willy Plain?288
Charles Dickens and the Law292
In My Mother's House: Images of a Hollywood Childhood308
Vietnam: Mirage and Fitful Dream319
The Necessity of Boredom347
The Jilting of Ernest Hemingway359
10,369 Rules to Live By369
Joyce's Distant Music379
The Nineteen Nineties
Shakespeare and the Norman Conquest: English in the Elizabethan Theatre387
The Passionate Poet and the Use of Criticism399
Corpses Thawing in Springtime: The Bulge Revisited422
Okinawa, Harry Truman, and the Atomic Bomb433
The Last Spring at Yale444
The Green Room459

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