As a young man very much concerned with writing and books, let me say how excited I was when I heard there was to be—at last—a new journal devoted to just that: writing and books. It is what this country has needed for a long time—an outlet free of the old personalities and intramural loyalties, an outlet that considers each book on its own values, irrespective of the pressures of publishers and pa’s, an outlet that is not afraid to rest each book against an objective touchstone. Yes, finally—an American Times Literary Supplement, where books are books, and the eternal concern with sales and personalities is left to others of less integrity. What is more, a journal that stands outside the usual coteries and partisan politics that dominate so much of our literary world. Pals and publishers be damned, there is your motto!
And so, may I extend my congratulations to editors such as Barbara Epstein—any relation to Jason Epstein?—and Elizabeth Hardwick, whose husband Robert Lowell writes that fine elegy for Robert Frost, who is also remembered in those poems of John Berryman, who reviews that volume of Auden—whose review, by the way, is also excellent—and whose sometime collaborator, Chester Kallman, has his poems reviewed along with those of Adrienne Rich, who reviews the poems of Paul Goodman, who writes that challenging essay on how modern writers can be spoiled if approached too academically, but who rightfully sees the value in book reviewing in an essay of great integrity that cites Henry Miller (not to be confused with the Jonathan Miller who reviews Updike’s latest masterpiece alongside) and Norman Mailer, who writes an interesting review—on a page that has one of the few fascinating illustrations that you have seen fit to give space to, which happens to be by Edward Sorel, whose book is reviewed along with Feiffer’s, whose cartoon happens to be another one of the few exceptions to your hightly admirable policy of concentrating on the Book—this same Norman Mailer who is cited by Elizabeth Hardwick in that essay about Grub Street (which, may I add, I certainly hope none of your writers and reviewers are ever reduced to working for!) which also cites William Styron, author of another fine review, and Dwight Macdonald, author of another fine review and, I believe, member of the old PR crowd, along with Mary McCarthy (not to be confused with the bad McCarthy)—that grand old party of partisans memorialized in an anthology, reviewed here, and edited by Philip Rahv and William Philips–both of whom write fine reviews and who are to be admired for discovering all those fine writers such as Saul Bellow, who also discovered a writer himself—Alan Marcus—any relation to Steven Marcus? who reviews Salinger, who is rightfully cited in a review of Education and the New America that wrongfully prises conformity, a review that rightfully cites our most dynamic non-conformist, James Baldwin, whose latest gets a fine review, an author whose name is properly and reverently intoned by most of your fine reviewers, including your advisory editor, Elizabeth Hardwick, whose husband Robert Lowell has a fine poem on…
To all of you then, and to all of the publishers who so generously supported this venture—and who so thoughtfully provided us with pictures of all of you in their advertisements—best wishes!
JOHN S. BOWMAN
New York City
June 1, 1963