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Posts Tagged ‘In Memoriam’

Chinua Achebe, 1930–2013

March 22, 2013 | by


“We live in a society that is in transition from oral to written. There are oral stories that are still there, not exactly in their full magnificence, but still strong in their differentness from written stories. Each mode has its ways and methods and rules. They can reinforce each other; this is the advantage my generation has—we can bring to the written story something of that energy of the story told by word of mouth. This is really one of the contributions our literature has made to contemporary literature.” —Chinua Achebe, the Art of Fiction No. 139



Richard G. Stern, 1928–2013

January 28, 2013 | by

We mourn the loss of Richard Stern, a lion of the literary world whose name was little known outside the den. He established himself as a nurturing teacher and a powerful force in literature at the University of Chicago, where, while writing, he taught English and creative writing from 1955 until his retirement in 2001. In Stern’s New York Times obituary, Philip Roth recalls meeting Saul Bellow, Robert Lowell, John Berryman, and Norman Mailer in Stern’s U of C classroom. During his tenure at the school, Stern was awarded the Medal of Merit for the Novel by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in 1986.

He published fiction, short stories, and essays prolifically, appearing in The Paris Review four times, across a span of almost thirty years. The second of these occurrences, from Issue 66 (Summer 1976), was the story “Aurelia Frequenzia Reveals the Heart and Mind of the Man of Destiny,” a brief and disorienting vignette about the interview of a mysterious Vietnamese ex-politician by a French journalist. Marked by a strong current of anxiety and paranoia, tension builds and builds until an abrupt and surprising resolution. It is representative of the work he shared with us.


The Beau Monde of Mrs. Bridge

January 11, 2013 | by

Our great contributor Evan Connell died this week. His best-loved novel, Mrs. Bridge, began as a short story in the Fall 1955 issue of The Paris Review. See below for the full text.


The black Lincoln that Mr. Bridge gave her on her forty-seventh birthday was a size too long and she drove it as cautiously as she might have driven a locomotive. People were always blowing their horns at her or turning their heads to stare when they went by. The Lincoln was set to idle too slowly and in consequence the engine sometimes died when she pulled up at an intersection, but as her husband never used the Lincoln and she herself assumed it was just one of those things about automobiles, the idling speed was never adjusted. Often she would delay a line of cars while she pressed the starter button either too long or not long enough. Knowing she was not expert she was always quite apologetic when something unfortunate happened, and did her best to keep out of everyone’s way. She changed into second gear at the beginning of any hill and let herself down the far side much more slowly than necessary.

Usually she parked in a downtown garage where Mr. Bridge rented a stall for her. She had only to honk at the enormous doors, which would then trundle open, and coast on inside where an attendant would greet her by name, help her out, and then park the formidable machine. But in the country club district she parked on the street, and if there were diagonal stripes she did very well, but if parking was parallel she had trouble judging her distance from the curb and would have to get out and walk around to look, then get back in and try again. The Lincoln’s seat was so soft and Mrs. Bridge so short that she had to sit very erect in order to see what was happening ahead of her. She drove with arms thrust forward and gloved hands tightly on the large wheel, her feet just able to depress the pedals all the way. She never had serious accidents but was often seen here and there being talked to by patrolmen. These patrolmen never did anything partly because they saw immediately that it would not do to arrest her, and partly because they could tell she was trying to do everything the way it should be done. When parking on the street it embarrassed her to have people watch, yet there always seemed to be someone at the bus stop or lounging in a doorway with nothing to do but stare while she struggled with the wheel and started jerkily backward. Sometimes, however, there would be a nice man who, seeing her difficulty, would come around and tip his hat and ask if he might help.Read More »


In Memoriam: Evan S. Connell, 1924–2013

January 10, 2013 | by

We are sad to learn that Evan Connell has died. An early contributor to The Paris Review, Connell was and is a quiet hero of contemporary literature. His novels Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge have been cited as a crucial influence by writers as different as Lydia Davis, Jonathan Franzen, and Zadie Smith. In his history books—Son of the Morning Star (about General Custer) and Deus Lo Volt! (about the Crusades)—his poems, and his essays, he sang the glories of lost civilizations and unearthed the ruins at our feet. Connell delighted in tales of folly, of doomed experiments, but his own experiments bore fruits, plural, for no two are alike. We regret that Connell was unable to finish his Art of Fiction interview for the magazine; stay tuned in the next few days for selections from his work as it appeared in The Paris Review.



In Memory of Daryl Hine

August 29, 2012 | by

We were saddened to learn of the death of Daryl Hine last week at the age of seventy-six. Over the years, his work appeared with regularity in our pages, and his voice will be greatly missed. The following poem appeared in issue 155.


A Rebours

Time’s one-way traffic won’t reverse
Summer’s sentimental course
Or force the headlong universe
Perversely backwards to its source.

Reverting to the title page
Cannot erase a book once read;
What echo of a golden age
Gilds an eternity of lead?

All the spontaneous happenings
Of the erotic pantomime.
Precipitate, straightforward lovers
Intimate that certain things
Are irreversible as time.





Gore Vidal, 1925–2012

August 1, 2012 | by

“The most interesting thing about writing is the way that it obliterates time. Three hours seem like three minutes. Then there is the business of surprise. I never know what is coming next. The phrase that sounds in the head changes when it appears on the page. Then I start probing it with a pen, finding new meanings. Sometimes I burst out laughing at what is happening as I twist and turn sentences. Strange business, all in all. One never gets to the end of it. That’s why I go on, I suppose. To see what the next sentences I write will be.” —The Art of Fiction No. 50