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Literature

Winter 2002

The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers

How to describe Robinson Jeffers, now 40 years deceased? Visionary or reactionary? Hard-eyed realist or Romantic throwback? The West’s answer to the East’s Robert Frost? California’s anti-type in poetry and politics to John Steinbeck in fiction and politics?

Jeffers’s raw “inhumanism,” along with his defiance of government meddling, seems the essence of fabled American independence and individualism. In one of his anti-Modernist screeds, “Poetry, Gongorism, and a Thousand Years” (1948), which Tim Hunt, former professor of English at Washington State University at Vancouver, includes among other prose in the Selected Poetry, Jeffers advises young poets that a “posthumous reputation” is “the only kind worth considering.” … » More …

Fall 2002

A common reader: Overcoming inertia

I’d like you to meet someone. He’s a vulnerable fellow, rather too open to the joys and despairs of deep remembering. His life, therefore, is disordered but rich, evocative but dangerously reflective. He gets along, he thinks too well, he cuts corners, he sighs great sighs. Wisteria blooms and withers while he gouges his summer with indolent harrow thrusts. He regrets memory’s hold on him, yet memory, a vast overgrown archive, secrets vital news. He has a hunger there to lose himself, and a trough of youth to do it in. The luxuriant foliage thins with the approach of life’s winter, clarity trumps extremes and, … » More …

Spring 2002

A salon of their own

Good conversation should bring about a transcendental melding of minds and dissolve class and ideological differences.

The funniest things Washington State University historian Steve Kale ran across in researching his latest book were the accounts of how much early 19th-century French women hated going to England. For England was much like the provinces. In other words, it was not Paris.

On social occasions, English men and women would eat dinner together, but not talk much. Afterwards, the men would retire to the salon, where they would smoke cigars and talk politics. English women would drink tea and chat. “The French women,” says Kale, “found it … » More …

Spring 2002

The Peking Cowboy

A short story by Alex Kuo; illustrations by David Wheeler. He wanted to tell the story in the third person, but it came out in the first; he wanted to tell it in the past, but it came out happening in the now; even if he wanted to, he could not change a word of it, its sequence and language clarifying its own shape and direction in his voice. » More ...