The Voice Literary Supplement for October was full of special treats, not the least of which was a profile of Marguerite Young, author of Miss MacIntosh, My Darling, a novel that I remembered from the seventies but had never read. D.M. Fraser, whose literary judgment I usually respected, kept a paperback copy by him for years. It was 1200 pages long, and I recall it having a lurid cover, and presumed it to be a sentimental potboiler and Fraser's possession of it, despite his protestations to the contrary, to be some kind of joke. Only now am I corrected for the arrogance of my youth, by Lisa Cohen, whose article in VLS makes me want to read Miss Maclntosh immediately. (I just stoked up the public library online catalogue to discover they don't have it!) Marguerite Young is in her mid-eighties and lives in a nursing home where she still writes poetry. Clearly I have done her (and Fraser) a disservice which needs undoing.
In the same issue is a piece by William Kendrick titled "Return to Sender: The Myth of the Death of the Letter," a terrific meditation on the history of letter writing and the sentimental myths that surround this apparently private act. At one point, speaking of the much-despised form letter, he reminds us that one of history's greatest practitioners of the form letter was none other than Saint Paul, whose form letters to the Galatians et al can be readily found in the Bible. Supporting essays on the art of letter-writing and the history of the postcard make this issue of VLS a real keeper.
The November Harper's came through too, with "The Revolt of the Elites," an essay by Christopher Lasch in which he registers the crumbling of the middle class and the emergence of new elites whose allegiance to country or "people" is limited to their own supra-national, private and moneyed enclaves. This "weakening of the nation state" is accompanied by the rise of symbolic analysts, the knowledge workers who serve the new elites and further the process of fragmentation that threatens to lead us all into chaos.
In the Atlantic, Peter F. Drucker in "The Age of Social Transformation" foresees in the new "class" of knowledge workers hope for a somewhat utopian future. Thematic convergence? Something is definitely in the air.