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Letters & Essays: 1960s

Letters & Essays of the Day

Postwar Paris: Chronicles of Literary Life

By Alice Adams

Two of the most distinguished American literary artists of their generation—their names as frequently invoked by critics and historians as they are seldom linked—appear here in a conversation that is mostly about being in Pans after the Second World War. The occasion giving rise to this conversation was a late September, 1996, University of Pennsylvania weekend observation of my retirement from the English faculty there. When friends Norman Malier and Richard Wilbur accepted invitations to attend, I suggested talking about this experience that both had often said was personally important, that neither had ever overtly visited in his works, and that happened to have a particular relevance to the Penn audience in that season.

St. Louis Return

By William S. Burroughs

(ticket to St. Louis and return in a first class room for two people who is the third that walks beside you?) After a parenthesis of more than 40 years I met my old neighbor. Rives Skinker Mathews, in Tangier. I was born 4664 Berlin Avenue changed it to Pershing during the war. The Mathews family lived next door at 4660—red brick three-story houses separated by a gangway large back yard where I could generally see a rat one time or another from my bedroom window on the top floor. Well we get to talking St. Louis and “what happened to so and so” sets in and Rives Mathews really knows what happened to any so and so in St. Louis.

Malcolm Lowry and the Outer Circle of Hell

By Conrad Knickerbocker

The themes of Lunar Caustic, like unreliable demons, pursued Malcolm Lowry for most of his writing life. He first undertook the story in 1934, during his particularly black discovery of New York in his youth. The city, he once wrote a friend, “favours brief and furious outbursts, but not the long haul. Moreover for all its drama and existential fury, or perhaps because of it, it’s a city where it can be remarkably hard—or so it seems to me—to get on the right side of one’s despair...”