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Foreword We sometimes assume that the world is our oyster, that we can take our cell phones and credit cards and go anywhere, anytime, and find plenty of people dying to pamper us in the accustomed ways. Or possibly we imagine that all it takes is respect for another culture to freely inhabit it. People arejust people, after all. The youngAmerican inJulie Rold's thought-provoking story, "In Faculty Block Number 5," a seemingly caring and culturally literate woman working in a province of central China, is about to learn that sometimes distant places really can be quite foreign. Sharon Balentine's story "The Chair" is a wonderful jeu d'esprit concerning the same subject—culture clash between an American living abroad and the provincial town that she so wants to like. Much of this issue of TMR, in fact, is concerned with different sorts of exile, primarily of the self-chosen, modern sort. Until fairly recently in human history, going far away, or being sent away and cut off from home, was thought to be a terrifying fate. The Greeks punished people for homicide by exiling them. The Romans developed different levels of excilius, considering it to be so disagreeable that a person could avoid trial for capital crimes by exiling himself. In Jewish myth and history, mass exiles have been definitive events— the Egyptian and Babylonian exiles, World War II—each followed by a founding or reintegration of the Jewish nation. American history, too, is full ofthe stories of exile, both self-chosen and forced: fugitives from religious persecution and poverty risking the transatlantic voyage to found the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies; Native Americans forced from their homelands; and the exile of constant wandering that has characterized the experience of so many on this restless continent. Or Missourians fleeing the border wars with Kansas during the American Civil War, as Daniel Woodrell discusses in this issue's interview . Woodrell's first published story, "Woe to Live On," which originally appeared in TMR, centers on this subject. It became a novel of the same title before being made into the current motion picture Ride with the Devil, directed by Ang Lee. Something of a literary exile himself, choosing to live and write in the Missouri Ozarks, Woodrell talks about his literary and family roots and the role his fascination with history and place have played in his writing. Writers, of course, are famous for self-exile, whether, like Thomas Mann or Nabokov, they are escaping political conflagration or, like Djuna Barnes and others in the 1920s, they are taking an extended leave from their culture of origin. American authors have often chosen to live abroad. One of our earliest important writers, Washington Irving, originator of the short story, did his literary inventing in England while studying German mythology. American expatriate artists became news in the 1920s in part because they represented the horde of Americans then traveling in Europe. Mass travel to Europe was perfected during the Great War, when over a million men of the American Expeditionary Force were sent to France. Prices were low in Europe, and there was an appreciation there for Americans. Djuna Barnes and her friend Emily Coleman were acquainted with the whole lineup of fellow artists visiting Europe: Isadora Duncan; Scott Fitzgerald; Jane Heap and Margaret Anderson (publishers of the then Paris-based Little Review, which originally published Ulysses); Charlie Chaplin; Alfred Krembourg; Sylvia Beach, owner of Shakespeare and Company; Antonia White, fiction writer and translator of Colette; Peggy Guggenheim and Natalie Barney, celebrated arts patrons. These and hundreds more traveled or lived in Europe, where they felt a sense of freedom and receptivity to experiment. Some were there to escape the cloying American materialism and hypocrisy written about by realist authors such as Sherwood Anderson and Theodore Dreiser. Philip Gould's story "The End of Those Things" is an atmospheric mystery about a troubled former schoolteacher's flight to NorthAfrica. Todd Pierce's "Love" has quite a different tone; its young narrator experiences a never-to-be-forgotten romance as a result of his mother's deliberate self-exile. Beth Goldner's "Tour Europa" is a quirky tale about a woman...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 5-8
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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