Spring/Summer 1992, 9.2
Neila C. Seshachari
This issue comes out in time to wish May Sarton a happy 80th birthday, which falls on 2 May 1992. In a literary career that spans almost sixty years, she has produced over fifty volumes of poetry, journals, memoirs, and novels, with Endgame, her latest journal, scheduled to be published soon by W. W. Norton. It is a prodigious life—the good life.
I drove on a Sunday morning, 4 August 1991, from Saratoga Springs, NY, where I had spent four weeks at the New York State Summer Writers Institute, to interview Ms. Sarton at her home in York, Maine. As I drove east on Interstate 90 on a day that was alternately sunny and overcast with dark, moisture-laden clouds, I could not help thinking that I was on my way to visit a special sanctuary, a domain chiseled consciously by its creator.
No writer I know has lived the deliberate life as May Sarton has. Her move to Nelson was perhaps the conscious beginning of that created world. It turned out to be a cultural event of great significance especially to women, for it gave them, among others, Journal of a Solitude, which in turn brought literary credibility to the "feminine" activity of writing the "daily journal."
This time, Weber Studies addresses itself largely to the newly-validated world of women, where they have been shaping their revised selves through writing and other avowedly "womanish" activities, as Alice Walker calls them. Ruth D. Weston, taking off on Walt Whitman's glorious pronouncement in Leaves of Grass, explores "the naked self" in Alice Walker's writings, both poetry and fiction, to declare that "Who Touches This, Touches a Woman" (emphasis added), while keeping in mind Alicia Ostriker's implicit assertion that a woman's world as well as voice necessarily enlarges the "universals" restricted by the masculine ideal.
Judy Elsley, commenting on the lives of marginalized women in Alice Walker's The Color Purple, recognizes their quiltingÑthe fragmentation and putting together of fabricsÑas a healing activity of rending apart patriarchal ways of being and then putting together or self-fashioning a woman's text. She sees anew Crazy Jane's assertion that "Nothing can be sole or whole that has not been rent."
David Galef's fiction, "Portrait of a Portrayal," creates a new world too, in which the protagonist fashions his own validation. It blurs lines between the real and the fictional, to involve the reader in the enigma of make belief. Robert Bateman, in "The Art of Dying," ventures into another newly emerging territory—the wish-world of the dying—to jostle readers into validating the world of the marginalized—in this case, the dying grandfather. In deceptively simple ways, the story subverts the accepted parameters of love and our responsibility to the dying.
Poems by Ace G. Pilkington, Linda Sillitoe, and Margrethe Ahlschwede take us into their specific worlds of introspection, anxiety, and equilibrium. Readers will note that the book review section includes a title, Screening Shakespeare from Richard II to Henry V, written by Pilkington.
Before our Fall 1992 issue goes to the printers, Sherwin W. Howard, Chair of the Advisory Board of Weber Studies and Dean of the College of Arts & Humanities under the auspices of which this journal is published, will have become the President of Deep Springs College in California. As he ventures into a new world of academics and self discovery, we wish him new successes and satisfactions, but most of all new books of poems and plays bearing his credit. We will miss him; in the precarious world of "nonprofit" publication, he provided administrative support and encouragement. And he shared our vision.
Our forthcoming special issue on "Exploration and Discovery" has generated great interest in our readers and contributors, inasmuch as we have received a spate of excellent articles on a variety of topics relating to the subject. The field is as rich as one's imagination! I look forward to sharing our riches with you, our readers.