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Letters & Essays: M-O

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.

Thomas Guinzburg

By Peter Matthiessen

When Tom Guinzburg became president of The Viking Press in 1961, its editors and other staff were, of course, people his father had hired. But Tom rapidly put his own personal stamp on Viking. No books were signed up that he didn’t personally approve, no advances against earnings offered that he didn’t authorize, no publicity plans and marketing arrangements plotted without his knowledge. And he made the often humdrum procedures quite dashing, being dashing himself.

A Blurred Retrospective

By Jerome Mellquist

Certain sentries of respectability still cannot accept Cubism. The Musée de l’Art Moderne has scoured the continents for the 231 items in its vast Cubist retrospective (1907-1914); it has assembled documents, photographs and architectural motifs to prove the movement’s overflow into adjacent fields; Jean Cassou penned a eulogy holding it up as the most fundamental renewal since the Renaissance; and still the more reluctant wing of French criticism can only stiffen up and mutter that a split was generated by the movement.