Friday, July 19, 2019

1979 Fannie Farmer


For a small woman what does it take to get a Blood Alcohol level of 0.24? ASK SLO Tribune reporters.

  • THIS IS THE FIRST CHART I SAW--
  • SOMEONE LET THE CAL POLY STUDENT LEAVE A HOUSE OR BAR OR WHATEVER AND GET IN HER CAR. IS THERE ANY PUNISHMENT FOR LETTING A FRIEND DRIVE HOME DRUNK, REALLY DRUNK?
  • A BAC in the range of .37 to .40 or higher can cause death.
  • Most people begin to feel relaxed, sociable and talkative when BAC reaches 0.04.
  • Judgment, attention and control are somewhat impaired at 0.05, and the ability to drive safely begins to be limited.
  • At 0.25 to 0.30, drinkers have near total loss of motor functions, little response to stimuli and may lose consciousness or be unable to stand or walk.
  • A 120-pound woman would have to consume seven drinks in an hour to reach a BAC of 0.30. The same woman would be at 0.35 with 10 drinks in an hour. Two drinks in an hour would bring her BAC to 0.08, the legal limit for driving.

Back to Why John ("PAR-thin-OH-pee") Bryant has always been so Hostile to Me

It goes back--I can probably find the day if I look--in the late 1980s or so when John Bryant asked me to write a letter of recommendation for him. He was applying for money from some Pennsylvania fund. I read the proposal and did not think it merited my support, so I told him I could not in good conscience recommend it. He sputtered and finally said that I did not know how to get along in the world. In this academic world, I rubbed his back and he rubbed my back.
Well, I was not that kind of smart get-along-by-going-along guy.

THE SAN LUIS OBISPO TRIBUNE: SEXIST, CLASSIST (I.E., ELITIST), AGE-IST, AND RACIST.

So the female Cal Poly student was a tad over the limit with booze. 0.7 gets a finger waved through your boozy breath. 0.8 gets you arrested.
0.24 is what the exemplary near-graduate tested.
Mr. Au is dead.
Now, has the Tribune sent out its reporter-bunnies to locate the place the student was coming from at 2:30 am before she got on the highway going the wrong way. Who were the friendly folks who watched her slugging more liquor than a mighty man could drink? The reporter-ettes were so eager to get to the family of Ms Scalone. Have they not gone looking for the drinking partners, or was the driver from Hell drinking alone till 2:25 am?
I think an investigation of the drinking practices of Cal Poly students is a great assignment for the goody-bunny got-the-scoop reporters. Sordid. Rough. Real. True.

TOXICOLOGY REPORT ON CAL POLY STUDENT WHO KILLED Mr. AU ON JUNE 12

The female student days from graduation killed Mr. Au, who was driving to work. Her blood alcohol level was 0.24. That's THREE TIMES the limit.
The SLO Tribune posted a glowing account of her as a woman who wanted world peace.
The SLO Tribune in the treatment of the tragic murder of Mr. Au was

SEXIST, CLASSIST (I.E., ELITIST), AGE-IST, AND RACIST.

The reporters who glorified Nicole Scalone  should be fired.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Morro Rock in its 7:45 am Glory


Still amazed that no one stopped John Bryant from Self-Destructing in the June LEVIATHAN



Any academic dope

Mispronounces Penelope.

It takes a dope like Johnny B.

To mispronounce Parthenope.

"SOWING CONFUSION," I WROTE ABOUT JOHN BRYANT IN 1994, my words in my diary imperfectly recalling the King James Version:


Proverbs 6:14 - Frowardness [is] in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord.


So in his long review of the Northwestern-Newberry Edition THE WRITINGS OF HERMAN MELVILLE on p. 110 John Bryant instructs us on basic pronunciation:
          "Parthenope (pronounced PAR-thin-OH-pee) is now the newly sanctioned title for what we have in the past referred to as Melville’s Burgundy Club Sketches.” [That is what Bryant says.]

THIS IS SOWING CONFUSION, SOWING DISCORD, ON A MASSIVE SCALE. HOW LONG BEFORE READERS OF LEVIATHAN CATCH ON?


Bryant in his classist, elitist way loves to introduce me by saying, "Hershel hails from Oklahoma." "Hails from" is priceless snobbery.  John fawns over his academic friends from Columbia, Harvard, and Yale. What do they think of him, really? We know what the great old scholars like Sealts and Hayford thought of him. And see my various posts about ORNERY PEOPLE, my retirement project on who the Okies really were.


Any academic dope
Mispronounces Penelope.
It takes a dope like Johnny B.
To mispronounce Parthenope.
Never met a Choctaw Okie
Ever called it "PAR thin OH pee."

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Some items on "John Bryant" a.k.a. Chowderhead in my 1990 Diary and the scary (wrong) instruction on how to say Parthenope

John Bryant's review essay, "Editing Melville in Manuscript" reveals an astonishing lack of control, and I have not said a word  about his ideas on textual editing.

Some items from my1990 diary.

2 March 1990 [I] discovered a Melville letter at NYPL in Duyckinck Collection folder of undated letters from unidentified correspondents. [This is the letter refusing to review a book by D.D.]



3 March Called Harry [Hayford] about [new] letter



3 March Called [John] Bryant [because he is in charge of EXTRACTS, the place to put new discoveries]. ADE session on Editing Melville. Told him Melville Research is where the action is. S[ai]d I wdn’t be on [a panel] with crazies like mmmmmm mmmmm or xxx or xxxxxxx. Harry is furious at him [Bryant].



20 March [Harry] talked also of J Bryant, toward whom he is . . . contemptuous . . . .



28 March--Talked to Harry--errors in M’s Reading--He’s to call Young Bryant & say “hold horses”-- Warburton not source for Koran on wine/Arnaut



30 April--call from Bryant--idiotically pushing claim that Wm Dodd = DD [author of the book EAD asked HM to review --the letter I found at NYPL]--idiotic--wants to rewrite my introduction to letter. S[ai]d no



15 October--nasty letter from young Bryant about New Hist[oricism] program.



23 October-- Long call from Harry about Mrs B in the poem & other matters--told him about Young Bryant’s censoring me

[This in these square brackets is not diary but a letter from me a few years later, 2000] I tell someone: “I had always assumed xxxxx was going to do the book--but life is so short that if Leviathan will print you swiftly and if you are content with John Bryant’s handling, I would go with Leviathan. I always find that John is the sort of editor who “fiddles” and makes things worse--he made me and Brian say something we did not say--and [Robert] Milder slammed us in print for saying it, when we had not said it. So I am wary of him as editor.”] [He never once gave good advice but always wanted to fiddle, and did so every time if you did not make yourself very clear and get some power behind you, as when I got Gail Coffler to keep him from messing up my memorial for Walter Bezanson, one of the best things I ever wrote. Bryant had a compulsion to put himself into everything, to make himself somehow the center, the star or chief mourner, and always he would mess up anything he touched, as when he set Brian Higgins and me up for ridicule.]



30 December [Chicago] Into the Lions’ Den--Wai-chee & audience contemptuous of HH & me. Party line of Lauter about CEAA pristine texts--“Ethan Brand” still about HM [though NH wrote it long before HM was a writer]. HH: Bullshit: “not on same wave length.” Hostility to my Auguste Davezac plea. Seelye attacking me--“Discredit the Expansionist!” (without knowing him). Only Kenneth Dauber seeing that it was an ethical issue I raised. Why is he an asst prof still? Mediated Gretchko and Young Bryant. Lunch with Walt & Gail HH Lynn Mary K Gretchko Bryant, Sandberg. [THEN] Alone on Wall St. on Sunday. [Brian was sick.] In snow took 2 1/2 mile walk--Water Tower Place--. . . Old Town up Wells--far up Clark past Fullerton to Barry . . . 14 degrees--That was the time to take a cab bk--Afraid of frostbite on face

[This was the meeting where Bob Wallace described  the “petulant” red-bearded stranger who kept shouting from the doorway, THE FACTS DON’T MATTER! THE FACTS DON’T MATTER! and were I remember the prophet as the Satanic red-bearded stranger. This was the meeting after which I never went to the transformed Bryant-Wai-chee Melville Society in the United States. The facts really had stopped mattering.]



I am repeating this because it is so shocking.

I am stunned that the June 2019 LEVIATHAN would print Bryant saying this:  "Parthenope (pronounced PAR-thin-OH-pee) is now the newly sanctioned title for what we have in the past referred to as Melville’s Burgundy Club Sketches.” Did no one at LEVIATHAN have the power to help him control himself?


You can ask any dope
How to say Penelope,

But it takes a Johnny B.

To Mispronounce Parthenope.


This would be merely amusing if in what passes as the final review of THE WRITINGS OF HERMAN MELVILLE John Bryant in LEVIATHAN had not gotten so very much wrong. At least we won't be around if Melvilleans centuries hence go about saying PAR-thin-OH pee! PAR-thin-OH pee! PAR-thin-OH pee! PAR-thin-OH pee!


Many little birds in these 2 pictures. How many can you see? They are tiny.



Knowing him as Chowderhead for 3 Decades is one thing but his new review is downright scary.




In this review in Leviathan June 2019 John Bryant says it is "fair enough" to say I merely "surmise" the existence of two lost Melville books, there being no hard evidence such as "rejection slips"---Yet we have Charles Scribner's letter rejecting POEMS. And for the 1853 volume we have Herman Melville's letter to the Harpers on 24 November 1853 laying out what he has in hand: "In addition to the work which I took to New York last Spring, but which I was prevented from printing at that time; I have now in hand, and pretty well on towards completion, another book . . . ." Something is seriously askew in approving anyone's saying I merely surmised THE ISLE OF THE CROSS and POEMS.

Something is wrong. Someone should have tried to talk to him. I always refused to be on the editorial board because I knew he would not listen to reason. I will post something else about his "fiddling" with contributions (as when he drove Merton Sealts to slam down the phone after withdrawing his paper).

So in his review of the Northwestern-Newberry Edition THE WRITINGS OF HERMAN MELVILLE on p. 110 John Bryant instructs us on basic pronunciation:

          "Parthenope (pronounced PAR-thin-OH-pee) is now the newly sanctioned title for what we have in the past referred to as Melville’s Burgundy Club Sketches.” [That is what Bryant says.]

OK, not “Par then OPE” but “PAR-thin-OH-pee.” We get it. Except that Bryant is wrong.


                                 Be true,

Ye winds of ocean, and the midland sea,

Wafting your Charge to soft Parthenope!



That’s what Wordsworth wrote about Scott’s seeking health in Naples.



You can ask any dope
How to say Penelope,

But it takes a Johnny B

To Mispronounce Parthenope.

This would be merely amusing if in what passes as the final review of THE WRITINGS OF HERMAN MELVILLE John Bryant in LEVIATHAN had not gotten so very much wrong. We won't be around if Melvilleans centuries hence go about saying PAR-thin-OH pee PAR-thin-OH pee PAR-thin-OH pee PAR-thin-OH pee!


NO SURPRISE:John Bryant Gratuitously Instructs us how to say Parthenope Wrong




"SOWING CONFUSION," I WROTE ABOUT JOHN BRYANT IN 1994, my words in my diary imperfectly recalling the King James Version:

Proverbs 6:14 - Frowardness [is] in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord.

So in his long review of the Northwestern-Newberry Edition THE WRITINGS OF HERMAN MELVILLE on p. 110 John Bryant instructs us on basic pronunciation:
          "Parthenope (pronounced PAR-thin-OH-pee) is now the newly sanctioned title for what we have in the past referred to as Melville’s Burgundy Club Sketches.” [That is what Bryant says.]
OK, not “Par then OPE” but “PAR-thin-OH-pee.” We get it.

But what about the way Melville really might have said it. Or the way Wordsworth said it. Melville knew this poem on Sir Walter Scott’s sailing for Italy:

On the Departure of Sir Walter Scott from Abbotsford, for Naples




A trouble, not of clouds, or weeping rain,

Nor of the setting sun's pathetic light

Engendered, hangs o'er Eildon's triple height:

Spirits of Power, assembled there, complain

For kindred Power departing from their sight;

While Tweed, best pleased in chanting a blithe strain,

Saddens his voice again, and yet again.

Lift up your hearts, ye Mourners! for the might

Of the whole world's good wishes with him goes;

Blessings and prayers in nobler retinue

Than sceptred king or laurelled conqueror knows,

Follow this wondrous Potentate. Be true,

Ye winds of ocean, and the midland sea,

Wafting your Charge to soft Parthenope!



My copy of Melville’s own edition is boxed up to go to the Berkshire Athenaeum so I use an Internet version.


Wafting your Charge to soft PAR-thin-OH-pee!
?????????

Why, you wonder, did John Bryant decide he had to instruct everyone how to say Parthenope, and to get it wrong?

We don’t need Bryant to mis-instruct us:
old nonsense poem:
You can ask any dope
How to say Penelope.

But you need John Bryant to teach you how to mis-pronounce Parthenope: "Parthenope (pronounced PAR-thin-OH-pee)."

Try HM:

“Neapolitans, ay, ’tis the soul of the shell
Intoning your  Naples, Parthenope’s  bell.




Posse in pursuit


Tuesday, July 16, 2019


THE CONFESSIONS OF EDWARD ISHAM: A POOR WHITE LIFE OF THE OLD SOUTH

EDS. CHARLES C. BOLTON AND SCOTT P. CULCASURE

This is my tentative Amazon review, to be added to and revised. I don't think I am unreasonable in wanting a book to be ready-to-read.

I may revise my initial ranking. The problem upon starting to read the book is that the University of Georgia Press did not provide running heads in the notes so that the reader would know on page 135 notes 3 & 4 are from page 1, that notes 5-10 are on page 2, that notes 11-14 are on page 3, and so on. It will take me a long time to go through the book making it easier to locate footnotes. I want to read the book. I don't want to spend today making it easy to access.

Another problem I see right away is even more serious. The editor has shut down too soon, missing the chance to go on even a couple or three years beyond 1859 to tell some of the rest of the story. Surely it is of some importance that Taylorsville was soon torn apart, so that Waugh and Slimp could not have tied any malefactor up and carried him across state lines for punishment. Waugh's wife and son boldly stood off Union terrorists a little later and Waugh was slaughtered at home still later. Waugh's companion, my cousin Andrew Slimp, died a couple of years after he helped capture Isham (how did he die at 34?) and his executor was the man who murdered Waugh. This gets beyond the story of Edward Isham but surely the story of poor whites and race and division by Lincolnites and Rebels might have been glanced toward. What a precarious year 1859 was!

 

Andrew's brother Frederick:

 

Monday, July 15, 2019

An Oklahoma Quilt Drying in California



Let's be Honest: "Chowderhead" was the Name Given to John Bryant, Not By Me

In 2002 FLUID TEXT  John Bryant makes such a deal of his intimacy with his equals: "while researching Melville, I would drift uptown to the Newberry Library to confer with Harrison Hayford, who from time to time would drift down from Northwestern to conduct the making of his magisterial edition of The Writings of Herman Melville."

I may yet have to describe how we had to deal with intrusions from Bryant over the years. I at least have diary entries, though I have not yet taken time to locate those of my intense frustration of trying over and over again to explain some bit of evidence he had called about. Hayford dreaded Bryant's calls because he never got right to the point but held Harry for a long initial maundering before he got to the purpose of the call. I see a 5 July 1991 entry. I don't quite remember whether Bryant had actually thought he would write a biography of Maurice Sendak or whether that was a nightmare of mine because of his vaulting ambition to control all things. It may have been a joke with Sendak.

Sendak had called: "Told him my horror of his official biographer John Bryant finding my notes. . . . Told him Brian H[iggins] says Harry now labels him Chowderhead. Maurice had terrible meal with Y[oung] Bryant & HH before Theatre--tension from HH."

"Vaulting Ambition" without true achievement leaves a no-longer-young man very jealous, as you see in the June 2019 essay, where he does not protect himself by reading more carefully than usual. What he says of me and Sealts is almost unbelievably distorted. When you say a rejection slip would be actual proof that HM wrote POEMS and not know that there was an actual rejection letter by Charles Scribner, then your jealousy or vindictiveness (what is it?) has pushed you into revealing just how weak you are with any biographical evidence, and how desperate you are to make so much of your essay on the NN edition into a personal attack on me. As he says, "Gotcha!"--but he does not "get" me.

He NEVER understood how evidence can be located and analyzed. It's still "Any Aunt Mary will do."--biographical tidbits out of time, out of space, as garnish, topping, decoration.

Why would he want to let that essay be his best chance to blacken part of the NN Edition?

Scanning 1991 Diary and come upon Maurice Sendak's Promise

"May 18--Maurice Sendak said he would do the cover picture of HM for my biography--the dust jacket."

Little did he know--he did a cover picture for each volume.

John Bryant's failures to read evidence and read texts and his failure to package truthfully




I have protested to Bryant over the years against the use of misleading terms in applications for federal funding.  For some time he ignored my protests that he was claiming to print my 9000 page electronic THE MELVILLE LOG as part of a grant project he was master of. I think it likely that he had my many years of work listed in NEH proposals as under his control. If he has my LOG and intends to publish it, then it has been stolen from me. Can he post his applications now?

It is a little late now for NEH and all other charitable funding organizations to take notice, but here is a warning: Not only have I never told Bryant that he can have control of my THE MELVILLE LOG but (let’s be clear) there is no known manuscript of TYPEE.


This is the full title of John Bryant's MELVILLE UNFOLDING: SEXUALITY, POLITICS, AND THE VERSIONS OF TYPEE: A FLUID-TEXT ANALYSIS, WITH AN EDITION OF THE TYPEE MANUSCRIPT.

What can the University of Michigan editors have thought they were doing when they allowed such a title?

There are no "Versions of Typee." There are versions of a handful of passages in Typee.

There exists no "Typee Manuscript" as far as anyone knows. There is NO SUCH THING.

There exist sixteen leaves from the first draft of Typee. As far as we know, this is all--one that had long been in the NYPL-GL, fifteen added as part of the 1983 "Augusta Papers."

16 Leaves and What Do You Get?
Vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself.


---- -- ---- -- ------- ---- . . . .


Can we not define our projects in ways that look less self-aggrandizing or self-magnifying? The work of transcribing and analyzing 16 manuscript leaves should be honorable enough to be described simply and accurately.  G. Thomas Tanselle and Robert Sandberg did it for the 2017 BILLY BUDD &c volume of the Northwestern-Newberry Edition without vaunting their achievement! They simply list their names as the ones who did the work.

Indeed, making a careful transcription and analysis of the surviving leaves from Melville's first draft of TYPEE would have been an honorable enough enterprise for anyone. I thought my chapter on "The Sailor at the Writing Desk" in the 1996 volume of my biography of Melville was well worth doing, as an early attempt to make a narrative about young Melville as a working writer.  I know very well how happy I would be to see a more minute analysis of the order in which Melville worked and a conscientious transcription of the words he put down on the paper on those 16 leaves, along with a full depiction of his arsenal of symbols for re-arranging bits of prose. Does anyone want a transcription guided by what Bryant calls  his "rhetorical agenda" instead of a determination to find what the author intended by each word?

I note that Bryant's informative "Melville, 'Little Henry,' and the Process of Composition: A Peep at the TYPEE Fragment" is more accurately titled. A title with "Draft Fragment" or some other wording would have been better, but "TYPEE Fragment" gives adequate warning that Bryant is dealing not with a TYPEE Manuscript but just a fragment (a fragment of the first draft, in fact). Honesty in packaging takes thought, and Bryant’s September 1986 title in Extracts 67 is not perfect but certainly better than the outright misrepresentations in Bryant's later wording.

Bryant’s review of the NN Edition in the June 2019 LEVIATHAN suffers from lack of truth in packaging. In attacking me for not liking being lied about, Bryant says that to say that I merely surmise the existence of one of Melville lost books is a “fair-enough” charge. But he also implies that he thinks “surmises” might be unfair if he had something documentary (he dismisses Melville’s 12 point memo on the publication of his POEMS--not documentary), something like “rejection slips.” But, Heaven help us, we DO have Charles Scribner’s letter rejecting POEMS. Does Bryant not know that Charles Scribner's letter is better evidence than a tiny rejection slip? Richard Brodhead and Andrew Delbanco were not “fair-enough” in saying I merely "surmised" these lost volumes. They were out to discredit me, and they have to a great extent succeeded as Bryant's 2019 review shows.

To do what Bryant did in attacking me in the review of the final NN volume is dishonest. He sort of, kind of,  has some familiarity with biographical documents but he does not understand how to analyze them and relate them to each other. I have noted elsewhere that in this review he totally misrepresents what I said about Sealts and the prose sketches about Grandvin and Gentian. Can he not have understood the passage? He is not a sharp reader because no one who reads by “rhetorical agenda” can respect the text he is looking at. But is there something darker at work? Like jealousy? I think of his misery that no photograph of him appeared in that December 1996 New York TIMES Magazine.  Why would a photograph of Bryant appeared  in that issue? It was not about him. The NN Edition was not about him, either.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Looking at 1993 diary. What Uncle Andrew Costner Told Me About His Uncle Bode Costner's Children

Moses Amariah Costner, that is.
24 July 1993 Andrew Costner told me that Walter and Dewey were bootleggers in the 1920s, Walter being Kevin's grandfather.
I wonder if Bill knew and told Kevin.

Close up of bluejay feeding


Blue Jay just now


John Bryant's contempt for biographical facts. One Aunt Mary is as Good as Another.

CONTEMPT FOR BIOGRAPHICAL FACTS SERIES--More of John Bryant's Embarrassing Errors in his notes on the 1991 Pittsfield Biography Panel


MELVILLE'S EVERMOVING DAWN was published late in 1997, six and a half years after the panel discussion Bryant provided the fns for, a year after the publication of the first volume of my biography of Melville.

I was humiliated by the errors associated with my comments on the panel and was irritated by Bryant's casual dismissal of my complaint!

To me it mattered that someone was a cousin or a step-cousin. It mattered that Melville said he had started TYPEE in NYC and not in Lansingburgh. Surely Bryant ought to have known about the label Melville affixed to the draft manuscript of TYPEE which he gave to Augusta, since he had published his "Little Henry" article as early as the September 1986 issue of EXTRACTS. The years of Malcolm's and Milie's birth mattered to me. Casually saying Uncle Peter was "invariably helpful in supporting his widowed sister and her family" was simply erroneous, as had been the earlier description by writers on Melville of Peter as Melville's favorite uncle. Peter's selfishness (or perceived selfishness) fills many of the early letters in the Augusta Papers. He could have educated Maria's children and Leonard's children. Timely expenditure of small sums could have altered the lives of those orphaned children. To call Catherine Lansing Elizabeth Shaw Melville's sister-in-law is very strange.

Accuracy mattered to me in 1997, and matters still. I simply don't understand the New Historical habit of treating biographical data as decorative--one Aunt Mary as good as another Aunt Mary, since what's aimed for is the historicist appearance of concern with context rather than the product of actual historical research into contexts.

Friday, July 12, 2019

An old post that bears repeating: John Bryant's Failures to Package Truthfully


John Bryant and the Old Notion of "Truth in Packaging"

This deserves a separate little note.

This is the full title of John Bryant's MELVILLE UNFOLDING: SEXUALITY, POLITICS, AND THE VERSIONS OF TYPEE: A FLUID-TEXT ANALYSIS, WITH AN EDITION OF THE TYPEE MANUSCRIPT.

What can the University of Michigan editors have thought they were doing when they allowed such a title?

There are no "Versions of Typee." There are versions of a handful of passages in Typee.

There exists no "Typee Manuscript" as far as anyone knows. There is NO SUCH THING.

There exist sixteen leaves from the first draft of Typee. As far as we know, this is all--one that had long been in the NYPL-GL, fifteen added as part of the 1983 "Augusta Papers."

16 Leaves and What Do You Get?
---- -- ---- -- ------- ---- . . . .

I have protested to Bryant over the years against the use of misleading terms in applications for federal funding. It is a little late now for NEH and all other charitable funding organizations to take notice, but here is a warning: There is no known manuscript of TYPEE.

Can we not define our projects in ways that look less self-aggrandizing or self-magnifying? The work of transcribing and analyzing 16 manuscript leaves should be honorable enough to be described simply and accurately.

Indeed, making a careful transcription and analysis of the surviving leaves from Melville's first draft of TYPEE would have been an honorable enough enterprise for anyone. I thought my chapter on "The Sailor at the Writing Desk" was well worth doing, as an early attempt to make a narrative about young Melville as a working writer. I know very well how happy I would be to see a more minute analysis of the order in which Melville worked and a conscientious transcription of the words he put down on the paper on those 16 leaves, along with a full depiction of his arsenal of symbols for re-arranging bits of prose. Does anyone want a transcription guided by one person's "rhetorical agenda" instead of a determination to find what the author intended by each word?

I note now (16 April 2011) that Bryant's informative "Melville, 'Little Henry,' and the Process of Composition: A Peep at the TYPEE Fragment" is more accurately titled. A title with "Draft Fragment" or some other wording would have been better, but "TYPEE Fragment" gives adequate warning that Bryant is dealing not with a TYPEE Manuscript but just a fragment (a fragment of the first draft, in fact). Honesty in packaging takes thought, and this September 1986 title in Extracts 67 is not perfect but certainly better than the outright misrepresentations in Bryant's later wording.

Diaries, diaries. Scanning 1995 and wondering how I survived the ugliness in the English Department

And there's enough for a 20 page harrowing story of how I had to break the contract for the biography and spend a week with no publisher for it. I could have had Princeton but did not take it when offered. The editor at Harvard took a weekend off to the Cape rather than reading samples, so I dismissed him and still am annoyed at him. Then Johns Hopkins to the rescue.
No safety net.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

"SOWING CONFUSION," I WROTE ABOUT JOHN BRYANT IN 1994


“Sowing confusion,” I wrote about John Bryant in 1994, my words in my diary imperfectly recalling the King James Version:



Proverbs 6:14 - Frowardness [is] in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord.



18 April John Bryant wants title of “Poems 1860” changed.



19 April Call from John Bryant just after Mert [Sealts] went ballistic over his [JB’s] editorial criticisms & hung up on him [hung up on Bryant] after withdrawing his piece. . . . Atwater . . . --Bob Milder fell in March in NYC & hit head on curb & “can’t talk.” Now talks as if someone is pulling on his tongue. . . . So I suggested he [Bryant] call Mert with abject apology



22 April Hard to wind down. Mail. Young Bryant’s comments on “Poems, 1860”--wants to avoid the word “great.”

Debate with myself whether to withdraw it.

A bad night over Young Bryant & [his] fear of “great.”



24 April Talked to Ed Shneidman about his new bklet--he had withdrawn his Companion piece once b/c of “pipsqueak” John Bryant--so he understood [when I] told him the story of AL [the March 1994 issue of American Literature designed to take Melville out of the canon and prevent my biography from being published--“we already have full scale biographies of Melville”]



25 April  Bad night b/c of Young Bryant . . . . Called Bryant at 750 am. OK--will keep greatness in and make other corrections & revisions. . . . To Smith [Hall] to print after inputting changes for Poems ch[apter] for Bryant. . . . Long call from Bryant about panel disc[ussion]



4 May  Chronicle wi letters defending me--OK except Bryant’s assy one--& the fact that no one says that the 1867 letters were published twice.



25 July --Off to Arrowhead to say goodbye to Caroline [B.]--and to see the Gansevoort Melville letter Ruth said Hennig and Young Bryant just saw last week--couldn’t find it [even] with Barbara Allen’s help. [see 30 July]



30 July later Young Bryant sowing confusion--[what he and Hennig thought was a Gansevoort Melville letter caused waste of time from several of us] Not Gansevoort’s at all but the HSG letter to PG that I [read and] sent to Stan [Garner] years ago. . . . Stupid John picking up documents & mouthing on while HC was trying to work with [cyanotype] album--utterly incompetent. [He just saw the name Lizzie]-- thought it was Lizzie Shaw [Melville]--Jesus what an xxxxxxx--Told me all about his great textual work on Typee all alone--Well, no, I had [already written] 12 pages [for my biograpny] on the ms pages [the dozen plus pages of the Typee Draft]--[He] caused me a lot of worry just by his incompetence.



***********************************************************************

End of 1994 diary excerpts.

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“Perhaps I appear to be playing ‘gotcha’” John Bryant says in his review of the Northwestern-Newberry Edition in the June 2019 LEVIATHAN. The problem is that he is still sowing confusion, sowing discord. Perhaps no one has ever lied about him in a way calculated to damage him personally and professionally. Lucky fellow! Well, Richard Brodhead and Andrew Delbanco did lie that way about me, and Elizabeth Schultz followed them part way into the depths. Personally and professionally their lies were very damaging to me. No, I have not gotten over the damage.

        Did anyone notice that in his book on Melville Andrew Delbanco mentioned The Isle of the Cross and Poems without any hint of his having said in 2002 that I had made them up? The LEVIATHAN contributors all this time, since 2002, have left these lies standing. Have I missed some refutation of Brodhead and Delbanco?

        Worse, now, in the long run, is that covering up for Brodhead and Delbanco has meant that people who write on Melville have not yet begun taking account of the half a year of actual writing Melville devoted to The Isle of the Cross and the two and a half years or so he lectured but devoted the rest of the time to writing poems--to reshaping himself into a poet. So to praise a critic for writing on Melville’s inaugural volume of poetry, meaning the 1866 Battle-Pieces is to praise a refusal to think of Melville in human terms, as devoting many months to making himself into a poet. That’s an example.

        I have been trying for many years now to get people to think afresh about Melville in his working life. I did that in the recent Historical Note that John Bryant is reviewing. Weirdly, he sows confusion on what I said about Merton Sealts and me--absolutely missing the point, and missing the fact that I used Evert Duyckinck’s list of callers as a way of suggesting that the men Melville saw there were charming, powerful, insightful men whom he lost touch with on Duyckinck’s death. I offered the possibility, using what evidence we had, that Melville needed to invent boon companions when he lost some of his living ones. That was an attempt, a minor one, to try to look at the contexts of Melville’s working life when there is not a great deal of evidence, when even some of Duyckinck’s callers are not identified.

        So it’s not helpful for Bryant to misunderstand or misrepresent what I had clearly said, to distort a passage in the Historical Note in order to what, smear me?, and certainly muddy the facts of my relation to Sealts. This is pushing people away from trying to visualize the trajectory of Melville’s career. In his equally weird decision that “surmise” was all I did about the lost volumes, Bryant is humiliating himself, not me, except among the readers of LEVIATHAN who do not know the documentary evidence. Remember that among much other documentary evidence is Charles Scribner’s letter rejecting HM’s POEMS. I did not surmise that letter. How can Bryant bring himself to justify Brodhead and Delbanco at the cost of denying such documentary evidence? I did NOT surmise POEMS! nor The Isle of the Cross.

        I keep thinking of my shame when I saw the mass of biographical errors Bryant made in his notes to the 1991 panel discussion. I should not have been ashamed: he should have. I was humiliated by the errors attached to my words. The GOTCHA in the “surmises” part of Bryant’s review should humiliate him, but I have never seen him embarrassed at anything he said or did, whether it was complaining that his photograph was not in the December 1996 New York TIMES Magazine or barging in to maunder on at the end of my talk in Lenox in 2007, unable not to be center of attention, or--well, enough. I could go on. Now Bryant has given readings from his forthcoming two volume biography of Melville. Well, we will see.

        I see his inability to refrain from saying it was “fair-enough” for a reviewer to say I had only "surmises" about one or two lost books and his inability to read what I was saying in the Historical Note about me and Sealts as part of the same mentality as his theory of transcribing manuscripts by his “rhetorical agenda.” What counts is not what is there but what you wish it would be. Is that unfair? Look at his review carefully. Will he apologize?