Friday, January 19, 2018

FFB: HEAVEN AND HELL edited by Joan D. Berbrich (McGraw-Hill 1975); SUPERFICTION, OR THE AMERICAN STORY TRANSFORMED edited by Joe David Bellamy (Random House/Vintage 1975)

Two 1975 textbooks, more or less.

Though Joe David Bellamy's anthology SuperFiction was published in Random House's "prestige" paperback line Vintage (and to be published in 1975 as a slightly beefy mass-market paperback with a pricetag of $4.95, without color plates inside or anything else very expensive about its production, was to trade very heavily on that notion of prestige), and was available in at least some bookstores as a regular trade item, it clearly was from inception meant to be sold primarily to a limited audience, and often as not as a textbook (in 1975, a mass-market paperback from Random House's recently-acquired Ballantine paperback line, of similar dimensions and page count, would be printed on slightly thinner, less acid-free paper and probably go for $1.50). It, however, is a rather charming anthology demonstrating some of the various means US fiction had been exploring fantasticated approaches, in form and content, to cope with the world and the human condition since mid-century.  

Anatole Broyard didn't like this book. But, even as late as 1975, perhaps except at Vintage's sales department (and even there maybe with mixed emotions), it wasn't really expected or hoped that Broyard and (perhaps even more) those he could be seen to represent in the cultural establishment would like the book or the fiction it hoped to showcase, even given that the contributors were often not the youngest of young lions, even if on average a bit younger and more untraditional than even such peers as Saul Bellow or Mary McCarthy or Philip Roth. 

While (with this third example of the high school-oriented "Patterns of Literary Art" series of textbooks I've dealt with over the last three weeks, as examples of of what McGraw-Hill and other explicit textbook publishers decided they had latitude to experiment with by the 1970s), Joan Berbrich was attempting something perhaps even a bit more "subversive" than what Bellamy hoped to suggest, in moving in her book  from religious texts and similar matter to various sorts of intentional fantasy fiction, and treating with folklore and myth also treated as such at time of writing, to both engage young student readers and also to get at the underlying currents of literature, and, like Bellamy, to demonstrate how this fantasticated material was taking on, in its various ways, the largest questions facing humanity that are or can be explored by art. And doing so via the inclusion, in a 1975 text, of not only a poetical play for voices by Robert Frost, but also a radio play, classics by Tolstoi and Dante (as translated by John Ciardi) and Benet and Beerbohm and John Collier  (and less-well-known gems by Alice Laurance and Robert Arthur and Stephen Goldin and Bruce Elliot),  and Julian Lester's retelling of the Stagolee/Stackolee/Stagger Lee folktale...Lester having just died yesterday, after an eventful and accomplished life and a short illness. Berbrich also includes a fine "first story" by Joyce Winslow, "Benjamen Burning" (the name as presented), which had been in the 1969 Best American Short Stories, after publication in a University of Michigan campus magazine and reprint in R. V. Cassill's "best of the young writers" anthology Intro 1 the previous year. (Most sources cite the Cassill as the source of the story, which is incorrect, as I was able to confirm with Ms. Winslow yesterday; after her own rather impressive career so far, focusing in large part on various sorts of public relations nonfiction writing, she's looking forward to seeing in print her first collection of her short stories for adults, to include this and other Pushcart Prizes-reprinted, National Press Club Prize-winning and other short stories she's been publishing over the years.) It's also notable how this book recapitulates the "multiple stories from one source" trope evident in the Leo P. Kelley volumes in the series: the Laurance and the Goldin stories come from the same all-originals anthology Protostars; amusingly, between the two 1975 books considered this week, the Joyce Winslow and the Joyce Carol Oates stories were in the same 1969 volume of BASS. 

More to come about all this, as personal events are intruding on each other...and I wasn't even able to finish the the revised index of the Berbrich anthology yesterday, though I did improve considerably and correct a few omissions in the Contento Anthology Index listing for the Bellamy.

Heaven and Hell edited by Joan D. Berbrich (McGraw-Hill 0-07-004837-1, Patterns in Literary Art series, 1975, 268+vii pp, trade paperback)

vi · General Introduction · Joan D. Berbrich · in

· Heaven and Hell and All That · Joan D. Berbrich · es

· The Last Judgment · Cynewulf · pm
· African Heaven · Francis Ernest Kobina Parkes · pm · New World Writing #15 1959
12 · Stagolee · Julian Lester · folktale Black Folktales (Grove Press 1969)
25 · What Price Heaven?  · Howard Maier · radio play
48 · The Last Ghost · Stephen Goldin · (ss) Protostars, edited by David Gerrold and Stephen Goldin (Ballantine, 1971)
56 · Chances Are · Alice Laurance · (ss) Protostars, edited by David Gerrold and Stephen Goldin (Ballantine, 1971)
67 · The Grey Ones · J. B. Priestley · (nv) Lilliput Apr/May 1953
85 · The Dead · Denise Levertov ·  (pm) With Eyes at the Back of Our Heads (New Directions, 1959)

 · The Paths of Good and Bad Intention · Joan D. Berbrich · es
93 · Our Lady's Juggler · Anatole France · (ss) Mother of Pearl (translated by Frederic Chapman; John Lane/The Bodley Head 1909)
100 · Benjamen Burning · Joyce Madelon Winslow · (ss) Generation V. 19 N. 2 1968
118 · The Devil Grows Jubilant · Daniel B. Straley · (pm) Said the Devil to His Wife and Other Poems (Normandie House 1944--Chicago-based vanity press?)
120 · How the Devil Redeemed the Crust of Bread · Leo Tolstoy · folktale (translated by Leo Weiner) What Shall We Do Then?... (The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, V. 42)(The Colonial Press, 1904)
124 · The Happy Hypocrite · Max Beerbohm · (nv) The Yellow Book October 1896
150 · A Ballad of Hell · John Davidson · (pm) 

157 · Bargains with the Devil · Joan D. Berbrich · es
160 · Ballad of Faustus · Anon. 
· song
164 · The Devil and Daniel Webster · Stephen Vincent Benet · (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Oct 24 1936
180 · Satan and Sam Shay 
· Robert Arthur · (ss) The Elks Magazine Aug 1942
196 · The Devil and the Old Man · John Masefield · (ss)  The Green Sheaf #6, 1903
203 · Thus I Refute Beelzy · John Collier ·  (ss) The Atlantic Monthly October 1940 (third and final ending version...Collier kept adding to the last lines)
· The Devil was Sick · Bruce Elliott ·  (ss) The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction April 1951

· Reward and Retribution · Joan D. Berbrich · es
224 · The White Stone Canoe · Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and John Bierhorst · folktale/myth (The Fire Plume: Legends of the American Indians, Dial Press 1969)
228 · Go Down, Death! · James Weldon Johnson · pm (God's Trombones, The Viking Press, 1927)
232 · from The Inferno, Canto V, The Carnal · Dante Alighieri · The Inferno (translated by John Ciardi; Mentor Books/New American Library 1954)
239 · The Devil and Tom Walker · Washington Irving  · (ss) Tales of a Traveller, John Murray, 1824
252 · Right and Wrong · Hesiod · pm (translator?)
254 · A Masque of Reason · Robert Frost · verse play (Henry Holt, 1945)

Revised from the Contento Index:

    • Fantasy • Fabulation • Irrealism
    • 23 · Unready to Wear · Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. · ss Galaxy Science Fiction April 1953
    • 40 · The Elevator · Robert Coover · ss Pricksongs & Descants (Dutton 1969) --possibly reprinted rather than first published here
    • 54 · Quake · Rudolph Wurlitzer · ex Quake (Dutton 1972)
    • 76 · Chiaroscuro: a Treatment of Light and Shade · Ursule Molinaro · ss TriQuarterly Winter 1974
    • Neo-Gothic
    • 91 · By the River · Joyce Carol Oates · ss December 1968
    • 113 · The Universal Fears · John Hawkes · ss American Review #16,  February 1973 (Bantam)
    • 129 · Manikin · Leonard Michaels · ss Massachusetts Review Winter 1968
    • 137 · In Which Esther Gets a Nose Job · Thomas Pynchon · ex V (Lippincott 1963)
    • Myth • Parable
    • 157 · Queen Louisa · John Gardner · ss The King’s Indian (Knopf 1974)
    • 173 · Order of Insects · William H. Gass · ss The Minnesota Review 1962
    • 182 · One’s Ship · Barton Midwood · ss The Paris Review Winter 1966
    • 187 · Saying Good-Bye to the President · Robley Wilson, Jr. · ss Esquire February 1974
    • Metafiction • Technique as Subject
    • 197 · Life-Story · John Barth · ss Lost in the Funhouse (Doubleday 1968)
    • 213 · Sentence · Donald Barthelme · ss The New Yorker, March 7, 1970
    • 221 · The Moon in Its Flight · Gilbert Sorrentino · ss New American Review #13 1971 
    • 234 · What’s Your Story · Ronald Sukenick · ss The Paris ReviewFall 1968
    • Parody & Put-On
    • 259 · The Loop Garoo Kid · Ishmael Reed · ex Yellow Back Radio Broke Down (Doubleday 1969)
    • 274 · A Lot of Cowboys · Judith Rascoe · ss The Atlantic Monthly November 1970
    • 282 · At the National Festival · John Batki · ss Fiction, Fall 1972
    • 289 · Under the Microscope · John Updike · ss The Transatlantic Review. #28 Spring 1968 · illustrations by Ann Haven Morgan
For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.


George said...

I've seen copies of HEAVEN AND HELL and SUPERFICTION but somehow passed on them. McGraw-Hill was active in the 1970s with anthologies of SF and Fantasy marketed to High Schools and Colleges. Random House/Vintage were probably pursuing the same audience.

Todd Mason said...

Oh, definitely pursuing the same audience, and with at least as much success, I think, in part because Vintage books could be and were sold to general audiences...if and when they were willing to pay such a premium price for them. Though even most Vintage books weren't so grossly overpriced for them time as this one was...and most such projects with that kind of pricetag at the time were at least collections of original fiction or other "high-risk" publications, rather than of reprints from many of the more popular writers of the day.

Casual Debris said...

Just noticed you included my review of The Fiction Desk Separations in last week's FFB list. Thanks, but it wasn't intended for FFB as the book was published in 2016 (and my article, technically in 2017). I don't mind at all giving the publication more exposure, however, as they consistently publish strong material.

Todd Mason said...

That's fine, Frank...given how many recent and utterly unforgotten books are dealt with in our Friday round-ups I felt that a magazine or periodical book with as limited a distribution or promotion budget as THE FICTION DESK certainly qualified.

Mathew Paust said...

Looks like a splendid collection. Wish to hell there was an ebook. That would be heaven!

Todd Mason said...

Well...both are relatively cheap, and the Bellamy at least was pretty widely held in libraries...I assume you refer to the Bellamy? They're both impressive.

George said...

I appreciate your mentioning me and my blog on James Wallace Harris's web site. Harris writes a lot more about classic Science Fiction than I do, but he always has something provocative to say.