Van Wyck Brooks
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Poems and Other Writings edited by J.D. McClatchy (The Library of America, 854 pp., $35) With the publication of F.O. Matthiessen's hugely influential American Renaissance in 1941, the modern-day pantheon of nineteenth-century American writers was established: Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman. The only other writer to be admitted into this select company has been Emily Dickinson, a recluse who published only seven poems in her own time and was virtually unknown.
Once upon a time—between September 1913 and February 1936—there was Vanity Fair. A quarter of a century after it folded, Cleveland Amory called it “America’s most memorable magazine,” and only a curmudgeon would quarrel with that accolade. It inspired an unusual fondness in both its contributors and its readers when it was alive, and amazingly its reputation still inspires much the same fondness in those who have never turned its pages. It is understandable that Condé Nast Publications Inc., the firm descended from the original publisher, should have been tempted to revive it.
The Flowering of New England, 1815-1865 By Van Wyck Brooks (New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, 550 pp., $4) Toward the end of the fine essay on Van Wyck Brooks printed in this issue, it seemed to me that Bernard Smith did less than justice to "The Flowering of New England." He might of course urge that he was discussing a literary career of almost thirty years, in which this new book was a single episode.
MR. FITZGERALD. How do you do. I’m afraid it’s an awful nuisance for you to see me. Mr. Brooks. Not at all. I’m glad to. I’m only sorry to have had to put it off. But I’ve been so frightfully busy with my book that I haven’t ben able to do anything. Mr. Fitzgerald. What’s that—the James? I suppose you’re trying to have it out in time to get the benefit of the publicity of the Dial award. Mr. Brooks. Oh, no: it may take me a long time yet. But it’s really rather a complicated job and I don’t like to drop a chapter in the middle or I lose all the threads.