Tag Archives: Literary Magazines

What day is it? Not Adam’s.

“The sensibility of man to trifles, and his insensibility to great things, indicates a strange inversion.”


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Simon Says

“Don’t think any intelligent person is going to be deceived when you try to shirk all the difficulties of the unspeakably difficult art of good prose by chopping your composition into line lengths.”

                                                                                                –Ezra Pound

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Please include a brief bio…

“I must confess to lifelong boredom with the main purpose of literary biography: the Life as opposed to the Work, which is, after all, all. I have also never had the slightest interest in knowing on whom a writer has based the character of Jeff, say, and should Jeff’s affair with Jane be just like a real-life one with Gladys, I feel gravity tugging at the volume in my hand. It makes not the slightest difference whether or not one knows a writer’s raw material because it is what he does with the stuff of his life that matters, and how he does it is to be found in the surviving words not in long since made beds.”

                                                                                                    –Gore Vidal


“We appreciate the chance to read your work…”

“Those brought up on the passive pleasures of films and television find the act of reading anything at all difficult and unrewarding.”

                                                                                                 –Gore Vidal

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“The hardest thing in the world to do is to write straight honest prose on human beings. First you have to know the subject; then you have to know how to write. Both take a lifetime to learn…”

                                                                               –Ernest Hemingway

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They have the numbers—

“The idea that all cultural expressions are equal has been fostered, not surprisingly, by women and minorities. Just as Americans in general have felt more confident in their grasp of contemporary culture than of its classical antecedents predating our nationhood, so those Americans who were historically excluded from the mainstream of tastemaking now feel more comfortable with seeing their traditional crafts and pursuits elevated to the status of art than they do with trying to master established art forms. In truth, some of these crafts have much to recommend them. I collect vintage examples of weaving; I find the blues irresistible; I have always liked square dancing. But these are lesser forms of art than, say, oil painting and opera and ballet, because the techniques are less arduous and less demanding of long learning, the underlying symbolic language is less complicated, the range of expression is less profound, and the worship of beauty is muddied by the lower aims of community fellowship. Above all, these arts are less intellectual—less cerebral, less abstract, less of a test. The prevailing popular notion that high culture is hard brain-work is, in fact, true. That is part of its point, not necessarily to exclude the less able but certainly to challenge them to stretch themselves and to heighten their learning.

American popular culture does not embrace this certification of art as work. Indeed, the word art is rarely used at all. The preferred signifier is the word entertainment, which correctly conveys that the aspirations are generally escapist, nostalgic, or anodyne. Entertainment promises to make you feel better, to help you forget your troubles, to liberate you from having to think. Even when entertainment touches deep feelings, it does so as a gesture of reassurance, a combination of sentiment and sloganeering. This is what most people say they want, and the market lets them have it, without anyone in a position of intellectual or social leadership telling them that they should ask more of themselves—and might benefit thereby.”

                                                        –William A. Henry III, In Defense of Elitism


All the bells say: too late.

“A country which is supposed to be built on dissent, built on the value of the individual, now distrusts dissent at least as much as any totalitarian government can and debases the individual in many ways because it places security and money above the individual; and when these things are cultivated and honored in the country, no matter what else it may have, it is in danger of perishing, because no country can survive, it cannot survive, without a patient, active responsibility for all its citizens.

We have begun to see what happens to a country when it is run according to the rules of a popularity contest; we have begun to see that we ourselves are for more dangerous for ourselves than Khrushchev or Castro.”

                                      –James Baldwin, “What Price Freedom?” (1964)

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“Literacy does not involve knowing the meanings of words, or learning grammar, or reading books.”

                                         –Wendell Berry, Preface: The Joy of Sales Resistance

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“If the Muses could lobby for their interest, all biographical research into the lives of artists would probably be prohibited by law, and historians of the individual would have to confine themselves to those who act but do not make—generals, criminals, eccentrics, courtesans and the like, about whom information is not only more interesting but less misleading. Good artists—the artist manqué is another matter—never make satisfactory heroes for novelists because their life stories, even when interesting for themselves, are peripheral and less significant than their productions.”

                                                                              –W. H. Auden

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“It did nothing for me.”

“I do not accept this excited rhetoric about what texts ‘actually do,’ which is replacing the older, soberer emphasis on what they say. I regard the methodology of ‘stop and go’ as a parody of genuine scientific investigation of the workings of the human brain, providing a spurious justification for what the critic himself arbitrarily chooses to ‘do’ to, and with, the text. A better way, to my mind, of slowing down the reading process and awakening attention to the nuances of language in the hands of great masters is to read aloud, to oneself, to one’s friends, or in a group, or to listen to a good reader.”

                                                                                            –Helen Gardner

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