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THE EDITOR'S FENCE 1. Changes ι I would not blame any reader for commenting on this caption with some such question as "So, what's new?" ELT subscription rates have gone up, and so have those of many other journals . That surely is not new. Utility rates have gone up - of course¡ food prices have gone up - of course; mortgage rates have gone up - of course. Such things are no longer changes. We've become habituated to such certainties as we have to Death and Taxes. However, I have made some genuine changes. The masthead has been moderately altered. Some new names appear under several captions and one new caption has been added. I hope to report more news from abroad, now that I have persuaded friends of ELT in Japan, Canada, England, France, Germany, and Italy to serve as foreign correspondents . Perhaps scholarship produced on both sides of the Atlantic and on both sides of the Pacific will be a little less parochial - in time. 2. Some Sour Grapes; The "fence" alluded to at the head of this page, I remind readers, is not a fence the editor sits on but the fence he leans over to talk to friends. My fence affords the opportunity occasionally to talk of cabbages and kings, sour grapes and sweet. At a time when our vineyard is threatened by blights we must occasionally remind ourselves that the problems faced by publishers, authors, teachers, and editors are not merely elements in a bad dream which will end when we wake up in the morning. All the moly of the world won't make the problems disappear. We can at least begin by recognizing the symptoms of the blight as realities and, if only in small ways, we can resist. Humanities majors who once populated our advanced courses are declining in number; certain kinds of course become more difficult to teach as various reprint series are dismantled and paperback text prices continue to rise; professional organizations are becoming more concerned with Muscalar Academicism; job training, how to write proposals, how to concoct courses that will "draw" (geriatrics in literature, women in literature, homosexuals in literature, sexist if not sexy literature), and untold fragments of what once was Literature . We have merely substituted specialized "pop" courses designed to meet the exigencies of the moment for specialized courses designed for the pigeonholed major. Neither course leads to a Liberal Education. The milk companies, the oil companies, and the electronics companies which now have acquired publishing houses, periodicals of various kinds, television and radio stations in the interest of diversification dictate the content of our courses. These are not Carlyle's Plugsons of Undershot, nor Arnold's Philistines, for whom there was hope. The Plugsons and the Philistines could be educated, civilized, and humanized - they were individuals. We face robots, automatons, computers, polls, and agencies, not literate persons who feel and think and, unashamedly, talk of values and virtues and beauty, and all those dreadfully embarrassing subjective things that define our raggedy humanity. This is not a cry to return to the "good old days." I recognize the potential value of modern systems and mechanical extensions of the human brain, but, like Carlyle and others, I resist the tendency to equate valuable instruments with the blithe spirits they serve. Well, ELT remains independent and unincorporated, as nearly a blithe spirit as a scholarly journal can be. 3. Sweetness and Light: In all fairness, I must confess that my vineyard in not totally ruined. There are some sweet grapes on the vine. The author of a rejected essay wrote gratefully of the helpful criticism that two readers provided; a subscriber wrote pleasantly that even with the subscription-rate increase ELT will still be a bargain - he worked out the cost to less than two and a half cents per page over the subscription year; several anthologizers recently requested permission to reprint essays first published in ELT; Bison Books (Nebraska University Press) somehow keeps in print Mrs. Humphrey Ward's Robert Elsmere. Critical Writings of Arnold Bennett, and Literary Criticism o-f Oscar Wilde, none of which could possibly have overwhelming sales; Academy Chicago Ltd dares to keep in print...


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pp. 3-4
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Will Be Ceasing Publication
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