Monday, May 28, 2018

T h e L a t e T w e n t i e t h C e n t u r y

The poet James Wright (1927-1980) was wholly of the twentieth century, dead now these 38 years.  Like William Dean Howells (1837-1920) he was born in Martins Ferry, Ohio, wrote a few books, and died in New York City.  Howells was a bigger deal, editing The Atlantic; like his hero Silas Lapham, Howells faded away. Wright seemed to die young. My interview with Wright appears in the print edition of Unmuzzled OX.


Emotionalism is everyone’s philosophy, pervasive as greed, producing some marriages and all divorces. People know their parts. Excitement is the goal of the coolest gambler, ambition pervades society because – triumph excuses hysteria. People mount hysteria, a mountain whose feet they suck. But history violates hysteria. What violates the judgement sculpted in sand, lost at each turn of the moon? Conviction.