*The Georgia Review


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The Georgia Review

American journal, 1947–
The Georgia Review has been concerned with the essay and the essayistic since its foundation in 1947. The magazine was conceived primarily as a regional journal— Georgian in subject, author, or implication—by its originating editor, John D. Wade, a contributor to the distinctly Southern, 1930 Agrarian manifesto I’ll Take My Stand. In his introductory editorial in Spring 1947, Wade explained that the Georgia Review’s brand of regionalism would be fairly conservative, “avoid[ing] the obscene and blasphemous, the trivial, the Tobacco Road sort of thing, and an undue emphasis upon race matters.” Either despite or because of his definition of regionalism, some readers and potential contributors protested at this emphasis, and by his second editorial in the Summer issue of the same year, Wade had to clarify that “any composition that arises from sullen earth and speaks with catholicity would be precisely what the Review is looking for,” assuming that in such an essay there would be some, no matter how remote, connection to Georgia.
Although many of the subsequent articles were distinctly academic, they were often affected by the personal essayistic tone associated with regional writing.
In the Review’s 20th-anniversary issue (Winter 1966), editor William Wallace Davidson (1957–68) and former editor John Olin Eidson (1951–57) looked back proudly on the magazine’s history as a distinctly regional voice. This voice would continue under editor James Colvert (1968–72) and acting editor Edward Krickel (1972–74), although the journal abandoned its traditional “Confederate gray” cover in 1969 and the regionalism of the journal was becoming more difficult to define.
The tenor of the magazine changed in 1974 when John T. Irwin became editor. Irwin’s emphasis on contemporary theory reunited the academic essay with its Baconian roots, showcasing the “open-ended” works of such renowned literary and philosophical theorists as Jacques Derrida, J.Hillis Miller, Harold Bloom, Geoffrey Hartman, Edward W. Said, Wolfgang Iser, Paul de Man, and Michael Riffaterre. In 1982., Eugene K.Garber of the Literary Magazine Review noted that, while the Georgia Review had formerly been respected but staid, its incarnation under Irwin’s editorship was an altogether different journal: “Out of the improbable larva of conservative southern regionalism developed the sometimes gorgeous chrysalis of structuralist/deconstructionist criticism and avant garde fiction.”
The Review underwent yet another dramatic transformation in 1978, when Stanley Lindberg assumed the editorship, a position he still holds. Lindberg created for the magazine “a new format—one intended to make our contents as inviting visually as they are intellectually.” His first cover featured French painter André Derain’s previously unreproduced 1938 Landscape with Huntsman and Bathers in a glossy, colorful packaging, an aesthetic change that has now become one of the journal’s trademarks. The graphic portfolios begun under Irwin have grown to include beautifully reproduced paintings and photographs, thus enveloping the pictorial within the margins of the essayistic. In 1986–87, Fred Chappell surveyed the journal for Literary Magazine Review and concluded that “The Georgia Review is physically the most attractive and intellectually the most adventurous of [current Southern literary quarterlies]; at the present time it outshines every comparable periodical in the United States.”
The Georgia Review also publishes poetry, fiction (for which it is frequently a finalist in the National Magazine Award in Fiction, winning the prize in 1986), and book reviews, but remains most noted for its essays, which range topically from philosophy, music, and art to history, psychology, film and literary criticism, frequently transgressing traditional disciplinary lines. Lindberg has emphasized the familiar, thesis-driven essay over more narrowly focused scholarly articles and in doing so has greatly expanded the magazine’s reading public, which has grown from fewer than 2000 subscribers in the late 1970s to more than 6000.
In recent years, contributors have included Malcolm Cowley, N.Scott Momaday, O.B.Hardison, Jr., Eudora Welty, Sally Fitzgerald, Rita Dove, Richard Howard, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Scott Russell Sanders, Joyce Carol Oates, Ernest J.Gaines, Michael Dorris, and 1995 Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney. The Review has also maintained its commitment to publishing new and sometimes nonprofessional writers, “willing to take the risk,” as Davidson commented in Fall 1957, “remember[ing] that Chaucer and Rabelais were not professional writers, that Matthew Arnold was an inspector of schools, that A.E.Housman was a professor of Latin, that Virgil was a farmer, that William Morris was a manufacturer and decorator, that Anthony Trollope was a post office official, that Wallace Stevens was an insurance executive.”
Recent special issues have included “Women and the Arts” (Spring/Summer 1990), a double issue of over 300 pages; “Focus on Nature Writing” (Spring 1993); “The Nobel Laureates of Literature” (Spring 1995), a collection of Nobel Laureate Acceptance Speeches and Lectures; and “Contemporary Literature of the American South” (Spring 1996), this last representing in some ways the best of both the new Georgia Review and the old.

KAREN A.KEELY

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