New Directions 19, edited by J. Laughlin
In 1936, James Laughlin published the first New Directions in Prose and Poetry, half magazine, half anthology of avant-garde literary and intellectual trends. For the next decade it appeared “at intervals of roughly a year.” In 1947 came Spearhead, whose “pleasant purpose,” Laughlin wrote in the introduction, “is to commemorate, and celebrate, the first ten years’ activity of New Directions by reprinting some of the best work that was published in the annual volumes.” In 1957, the sixteenth collection was published. In the ten years since then, there have appeared only three more. In the early volumes, many of the writers were young, a great deal of the material printed was original, and there were manifesto-like introductions. In New Directions 19 (published in 1966), more of the living writers are over sixty-five than under thirty-five, nearly everything is reprinted, and there is no introduction. As for the formal innovation which is supposed to characterize the avant-garde, if there is any here, it was performed by Rafael Alberti, a Spaniard, in the late 1920′s (in “Concerning the Angels,” a sequence of poems translated and with a scholarly introduction by Geoffrey Connell, an Englishman).
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