The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on October 12, 1986 · 312
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 312

Boston, Massachusetts
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 12, 1986
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Fragments of Delmore's gift B DELMORE Continued from Page B110 In 1940, Delmore and Gertrude moved to Cambridge, where h? $ould teach at Harvard for the next few years: his account of the period suggests an Intellectual milieu whose luminaries Included R. P. Blackmur, F. O. Matthleson. Oscar Handlln. (In New York, It was James Laughlln and the Partisan Review crowd.) Many of the poems that would become "Genesis: Book One" (published In J 943) have their nascent fragments here, and one can't help feeling that the torch burned a little too fiercely, even then: "The pain goes ringing through me like alarms! All of this desperate vile aspiration Can never have an end, Babel once more!" C Despite the inner despair that plagued him through his life, Del-more didn't spend much time on personal detail while scribbling in these late-night retreats. There are occasional hints of Impotence and the unhapplness of his first marriage ("she was frigid, he was flgld: what a marriage"); analyses of dreams and childhood (ever the modernist, he was a stalwart champion of Freud). His most fragmented entries play on and on like unedited tapes on fast-forward. But the symmetry of sound and feeling that he mastered In his best work Is nonetheless apparent amid the rubble, particularly when he writes of Eliot or Joyce or a tree-lined street in the snow. Schwartz wrote with passion about all these things. In poetry and criticism, and his love for literature was probably the last thing to go. I He called poetry his "stern stepmother," but Delmore's real master was his addiction, and he makes Infinite references to his efforts at controlling his intake of Dexedrlne, Seconal and alcohol. Even In Cambridge (it would get much, much worse), the days appear to have been marked by "Scotch, too much" and ruthless hangovers and "one more day, one more waste." His hands shook; he had trouble teaching classes; he went to bed with sherry or Jars full of rum, awaking in the predawn hours to swallow more pills. The account of all this over a 20-year span Is tragic but relentless, not at all softened by the obvious concern of Dr. Gruenthal, Delmore's psychiatrist - who cautioned him against excessive drinking but continued to supply him with amphetamines and barbiturates. Delmore Schwartz called poetry his stern stepmother,' but his real master, tragically, was his addiction. these dark Cambridge winters, Delmore began to name his demons. The amphetamine rush, which predictably brought a "blaze of sensibility," was followed by depression and lethargy; on his 30th birthday, he wrote that "It feels very strange; thirty dead years, thirty thousand; imaginations of what this day was to be." Six months later, In the spring of 1944, he wrote of Proust and Paris and then: "This lifelong sickness which robs me of my self, which takes away my power, which made me a poor student, the author of unfinished works, or works which deceived me very much: at last I know It Is a sickness, and that I am hardly to blame, to blame myself - at least that much is understood." Delmore was obsessed with the higher realms as well, and amid his anguish he wrote of Valery fMinuiiwHWWJ'i i-. Ff iwwMwmimiinn iua .mm iiiilmmia hhijim . ivuMMMqi& tern 11 if it'jl 1 W&rf&m "&:: AW$ to&tvi&m ENTREPRENEURS An American Adventure ROBOT SOBB. AND WD R SKUA FORFW3RD ty ALFRED D CHAMXER t LUSmAICNS GCWIfD IV MARTIN V SANCUR Last Thursday, on Channel 9 (WNEV), Robert Mitchum introduced , you to The Entrepreneurs, when the 6-part, once-a-month ; prime-time series began. It tells the thrilling, uniquely American ' stories of men and women, from Henry Ford to Famous Amos, - with the imagination, resourcefulness, and daring to make their dreams happen. These fascinating stories, airing through March of 1987, are all captured in a lavishly illustrated companion . volume, The Entrepreneurs, now at your bookstore. Exhilarating reading for all the American dreamers in your life. Houghton Mifflin Company "4 2 PSA Stmt. Boston. MMiC)UMtl 0210B HougMon MHflln Compwiy 1M6 and Rllke and Yeats, of Beethoven and Haydn, of the women he loved. He and Gertrude were divorced In 1944; a year later, he left Harvard for a sabbatical In New York and began seeing Elizabeth Pollet, whom he married In 1949. (She left him In 1957.) The paranoia that eclipsed his spirit in later years surfaced around this time, when Delmore began to write of himself In the third person - disconcertingly in synch, with his decline. Somehow he managed to keep writing book reviews ("Critic, at least, no doubt about that!" he wrote In 1952), but the assignments grew less and less frequent and took longer to complete. In 1951, Delmore and Elizabeth moved to a farmhouse In rural New Jersey ("The very bushes might have been on welfare," as Bellow put It In "Humboldt's Gift,"), and Princeton became his academic home for the next few years. The preceding period had been worse than fallow, and Del-more noted In a 1952 entry that "I have not been a practicing poet -practicing as I used to - since 1944. . ." That same year, he commented on his "New book of lyrics, 50 pp. enough" - as though now reduced to counting his stanzas, along with the drinks and pills he methodically recorded. The last decade of Delmore's life was one of Increasing sadness and estrangement - from the universities that coddled him, the friends who tried to aid him, the women who stayed through the haze and emotional riptides. What hand he had In his own destruction was manifest in the prolonged agony that foresaw his death, even wished for it, but couldn't ordain it. "It's time to die," he wrote as early as 1949, ". . . Hope Is an Incurable Invalid and entertains death as a lyric." It was finally over In 1966, In a rundown hotel near Times Square, where he died from a heart attack in the hall outside his room. More than anything, "Portrait of Delmore" wants to remind us of this sad and brilliant life, with its emotional Insurrections and moments of glory. But for all his painstaking Insights and erudite garble, the question arises as to why the journals have been published at all. Even at his most lucid. Delmore wrote a quixotic shorthand in his Journals; he seems to have used them as a capricious exit from the dailiness of his life and work. Still. Pollet's understandable bias has compelled her to add these writings to the published archive, perhaps In an attempt to let the whimsical genius speak out for itself - "your genius on a silver platter," as Gertrude Buckman once told him. Even that was equivocal praise, testifying as It did to the creative spirit as well as the Inessential pomp and waste. AUTHOR'S QUERY For a book about Louis J. A. P Mercier (professor of history at Harvard and Radcliffe. 1911-1946), I would welcome any letters, remlniscenses or documents' pertaining to him. Send to: Louise M. Des Marais. PO Box 3746, Washington, DC 20007. r i E533&SSE 3 "An inventive, graceful yet startling book.... Gripping... enlighteningr TTTTTTT Tlffi W HI) AMITY author of The Madness of a Seduced Woman Iris is home from the hospital, "cured," they say, of her mysterious and isolating illness. But Iris, having survived a brush with death, now faces the more painful challenge of life; caught between her past and present loves, she must struggle to catch up with her own secret self in a world she no longer seems to understand. Schaeffer carries her heroine on a dazzling mid-life journey that moves directly into the universal mysteries of the human heart. "Schaeffer writes like an angel.-Marge Piercy "A life-affirming and satisfying book... Schaeffer has few contemporary peers." Publishers Weekly "Heartwarming, literate, and very wise... authentically compelling." Kirkus Reviews ST, MARTIN'S PRESS By Robert Taylor Globe Staff Globe Pequot Press of Chester, Conn., a subsidiary of Affiliated Publications, has acquired The East Woods Press of Charlotte, N. C. East Woods Press Is the imprint of Fast & McMillan, a company specializing In outdoor, gardening and travel books. In making the announcement, Globe Pequot publisher Charles B. Everltt said. "East Woods has a strong presence in the South, the Midwest and the far West. With this acquisition, Globe Pequot will move out of the Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states to become a national publisher." Last February, Globe-Pequot also purchased a majority interest In Auburn House of Dover, publishers of academic and professional texts. Sally McMlllen, recently-elected president of the Publish- ers Association of the South and a founder of East Woods Press, will continue to work with Globe Pequot as a senior editor based In Charlotte. . The Hakluyt (pronounced "Hack-loot") Society, or "Hak-soc," as insiders refer to It, a little-known assemblage of scholars and lay persons dedicated to the literature of exploration and voyages, Is meeting In the United States this week for the first time in 140 years. Founded In 1846. the 2.300-member society has regularly convened at the British Library in London; but from Thursday through Sunday, members will meet at the John Carter Brown Library on the Brown University campus In Providence. John i " Carter Brown, a descendant of the university's founders, was a charter member of Haksoc. During the conference, the John Carter Brown Library Is showing rare printed materials tracing English Involvement with voyages of discovery from the 16th to the 18th centuries. In the late 1950s, Lady Bird Johnson was Ann Beattie's dancing teacher at the Wesley Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. Her step-together-step dancing days over, Beattie, presently 38 and living In Charlottesville, Va., Is widely respected for short stories and novels. Beattie's fourth story collection, "Where You'll Find Me," m wf- - "' X . ',' w. Ann Beattie: at BPL has just been published by Simon and Schuster, and she will discuss the book and read from it at the Boston Public Library's Rabb Lecture Hall, Copley Square. Wednesday at 6 p.m. A reception will follow at the Harvard Book Store Cafe, Newbury and Exeter streets. Emerson College will present Its annual all-day "Writing For Pay" conference starting at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday at the Park Plaza Hotel. Among the pa;tlci-pants are Ross Terrill, who will speak on "Biography"; Howard Simons and Haynes Johnson, on "Collaboration"; Dewltt Henry, on "Publishing Short Fiction"; and Steve Callahan, author of "Adrift." on "Translating Personal Experience." Tuesday at 8 p.m., Robert Houston, author of the novel "The Nation Thief (Pantheon) and editor of "The War In Nicaragua" by William Walker (University of Arizona Press), will give a free reading of his fiction In the College Union lounge of Salem State College. Also on Tuesday, 5:30-7:30 p.m., the Boston Athenaeum will have a reception for Crocker Wight and his "John Masefleld: A Bibliographical Description of His First, Limited. Signed and Special Editions." A free bilingual poetry reading, "Visions and Revisions: Latin American Women Poets, 1940-1980." with Chilean poet Marjorle Agosin and her translator, Cola Franzen, will take place Thursday at 3:30 p.m. In the Trustman Art Gallery, Simmons College. 300 The Fenway. Thursday at 8 p.m., In Gasson Hall, Boston College, Nicholas Lash will speak on "The God of William James." The Trib's special kind of glory TRIB Continued from Page Bl 10 I elapse before we reach Greeley's death In 1872. by which time this reader, at least, was eager to move on with the story. It Is only with the accession of Greeley's chief editorial writer, Whitelaw Reid. that the central tension of the modern Tribune emerges - the spirited engagement of the paper's staff pitted against the patrician lassitude of the Reid dynasty. The Relds considered it their Republican-Christian duty to sustain the newspaper, but less as a vigorous competitor in the New York market than as an Impecunious pensioner. Whitelaw's son. Ogden. was a genial drunk who largely kept his hands off the editorial product during the paper's heyday before World War II, but never put the Tribune on a sound fiscal footing; his wife Helen, the anglophlllc, anti-Semitic former social secretary, presided over the paper's long, slow decline in the '40s and '50s; her two sons, the Ineffectual Whitelaw and the crude, red-baiting Ogden Jr., speeded It to premature death. Only very late In the game -1958 - did the paper pass Into the hands of an able and vigorous leader, Ambassador to the Court of St. James' John Hay "Jock" Whitney, who was encouraged by Dwlght Elsenhower himself to ride to the rescue. Whitney emerges In, these pages as an enormously attractive man (one of his editors calls him "a resident nobleman," another "the nicest man I ever worked for"), but ultimately even he was unwilling to commit the resources that might have permitted the Tribune to compete on some kind of even footing with the Times. By the time I began drifting into Bleeck's in the '60s, the paper was flailing around desperately, trying first one gimmick, then another, to stave off the inevitable. Finally, an ill-conceived merger with the World-Telegram and Journal-American produced a three-headed monster, which Kluger correctly calls "a misbegotten thing, a patchwork paper, soulless and Joyless," mercifully dead In eight months. But managerial fumbling notwithstanding, the Tribune was a great newspaper, largely because it managed year In and year out to assemble a dazzling roster of writers and give them the freedom to do their best work. How many papers anywhere In the world could boast a line-up like this: Horace Greeley. Jacob Rlis, George Walker Smalley, Albert Deane Richard son, Lucius Beebe, Walter Llpp-mann. Dorothy Thompson, Alexander Woolcott. Deems Taylor, John Crosby, Walter Kerr, Clementine Paddleford, Eugenia Sheppard. Joseph Alsop, Joe Mitchell, Robert Donovan, David How did the English language conquer the world? English is the first truly global language spoken by a billion people from Bangor to Bangkok. THE STORY OF ENGLISH a fascinating, richly illustrated book shows how English rose to international prominence and celebrates its extraordinary adaptability to new needs and different cultures. "An achievement to reckon whh....lntelligent, sedulous, thoroughly readable." Washington Post Book World STORYOF ENGLISH Aubo7K1uCruni.wmtiini t Inm. ami MacNrtt lit?"- r? 7 J r4 4-A 1 4 , VS f I -fvf ill ! ' ' , The in-depth companion to the PBS-TV series, hailed by The New York Times m "imaginative, provocative, and a winner." Selected by the Book-of-the-Month Club At bookstores now 4 i Wise. Marguerite Higgins, Stuart Loory, Jimmy Breslin, Tom Wolfe, Homer Blgart. Red Smith. Peter Kihss, Art Buchwald. Not surprisingly, some of the most vivid pages In this book are Kluger's portraits of these arresting personalities. There are memorable sketches of Robert Peck, the puckish rewrlteman who was once assigned the kind sf routine weather story he hated and submitted a piece that ran In its entirety, "It snowed yesterday with the usual results"; of Irita Van Doren, the paper's longtime book editor, and her Intense affair with Republican presidential candidate Wendell Willkie, during which she became one of his principal advisers; of Danny Blum, a desk man struck by polio at age 31, who by dint of a fierce will and memorable irascibility, became a much-loved city editor of the paper in Its last days. There are acid portraits as well: of Bert Andrews, the veteran Washington correspondent, who blatantly promoted Richard Nixon's anticommunlst activities and once told a colleague he Intended to make Nixon president; of Dorothy Brandon, a city room reporter who shrewdly "flaunted" her daughter before Whitelaw Reid, arranging a marriage that assured both mother and daughter "financial security and social advancement"; of Larry Hills, who took charge of the Tribune's European coverage on the eve of World War II and used that position to foster the rise of fascism, earning one correspondent's damning assessment, "He has the Integrity of a cockroach." But for sheer compulsive readability, the most memorable pages In the book are those that recount the rivalry between Tribune correspondents Marguerite Higgins and Homer Blgart when both were assigned to cover the Korean War. Blgart, then 43. widely regarded as the paper's greatest war correspondent and arguably the finest reporter of his generation, deeply resented sharing his story with the 29-year-old Higgins, who had served a successful stint as the paper's Berlin correspondent but was known, In Kluger's words, as "a ferociously determined woman. . . who selected most if not all of her bedmates for intensely practical reasons, to add to her power or promote her career." Time and again, Blgart asked his editors to transfer Higgins, who responded with some formidable feats of reportage, only spurring Blgart on to still more awesome efforts of his own (they shared the Pulitzer Prize for their work). But Blgart never relented in his scathing hostility to Higgins. On being; told that Marguerite was pregnant, he asked, "Who's the mother?" If Kluger's yarns sometime descend Into good raunchy gossip, he never loses sight of the big questions. If he vents his anger at the Relds (and their hired flunkies) for betraying the newspaper's highest aspirations, he shares an ex-colleague's belief that the Tribune, at its best, had "a special kind ejf glory."

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