Author: Bruce Robbins

The 60’s as Founding: On David Bromwich’s “How Words Make Things Happen”

The 60s as Founding: On David Bromwich’s How Words Make Things Happen Many years ago, David Bromwich and I conducted a brief correspondence. You can tell how many years ago by the fact that the correspondence took the form of letters, with stamps. The immediate subject, as I remember it, was politics. As I remember, I remarked on the surprising respect that David seemed to have for the lasting political wisdom of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution as guides to present political judgments, a respect which (so soon after the 60s) I found implausible. As I remember, David...

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BREAK-UP POEMS: an invitation to poets

Have you ever spent a night kneeling on your living room floor, howling and digging half-moons into your palms, pleading with the indifferent night to lessen the pain? Meaning, have you ever broken up? Have you ever gotten divorced? We want to read about it. Send us your divorce and break-up poems. Send to...

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A New Story by Harry Whomersley

Chariot of the Gods Harry Whomersley   I knew what people would be looking at during the broadcast and I knew that very few of them would even think about me. I did not regard myself, at the best of times, as a particularly captivating figure so I couldn’t say I blamed them. But there I was, standing with an entourage, of sorts, very still, facing the landing ship. Despite what people often say, since I had taken office I realized that very few people seriously considered what it must be like to be President. Not, I mean, in...

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John Hay on Bob Dylan: Untangling the Tracks

Mid-1970s Bob Dylan is the best Bob Dylan. Mid-1960s Dylan may be the historically significant Dylan, the canonical Dylan now regularly appearing on college English syllabi, but for me—I was born in 1984—that Dylan requires historicization. It’s not that the songs aren’t good (they’re terrific), but the hype and hysteria are hard to understand. That whole “going electric” thing . . . I guess you had to be there. It strikes this millennial as a little naïve in retrospect—in the same way that John Updike’s elevation of suburban sex as secular miracle now seems misguided. Sixties Dylan was a...

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The Germans Come Back to Psari

Elsa said it once or twice as a joke: “The Germans are coming back to Psari! Och!” The “Och!” was supposed to express fake fear. When they had come before, in the early summer of 1944, the fear had been well grounded. The village had been occupied, a woman raped, and the occupiers chased out by the Resistance. Then the German army had come back, the village had been burned to the ground, along with all its crops, and those inhabitants who had not fled (the usual number given is 5) had been shot. Those who hid in the...

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