American Heritage: So Long at the Fair
The one featured Walter Raleigh. The article was dumb, a recapitulation of Raleigh’s Roanoke adventure; but the color plates were great. I looked up Raleigh’s poetry in the Norton anthology. Then I read in the Fairie Queen; Raleigh helped get it published and Spenser’s letter to Raleigh is as important to that poem as Dante’s to Della Scala. And then I read some Donne in the Grierson edition; there’s a new biography of Donne. Ann Donne, for whom John sacrificed all, died at 33.
The other American Heritage featured Frederick Olmstead whom the magazine characterizes, laughably, as unknown. Olmstead designed the great parks of the great North American cities. The World for a Shilling by Michael Leapman credits the gigantic greenhouse which was essentially London’s Great Exhibition of 1851 for foretelling Olmstead. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson details the struggle by David Burnham to engage Olmstead as designer for the grounds of Chicago’s Columbian Exhibition of 1892. Olmstead alone, of course, made the great American cities bearable.
Will the wonderful American Heritage Dictionaries continue? The title is owned by Forbes. I am disappointed that with age and some money I have come to read Forbes with almost the attention I pay The New Yorker. In 1988 I published in Unmuzzled OX an interview with Imamu Amiri Baraka by David Remick. I regret having made fun of Remick. Of course, he now edits The New Yorker.