: Our Doppelganger Moment :

by Robert S. Fogarty

 

With this issue we enter into our doppelganger phase with an electronic version available
through JSTOR, the highly regarded nonprofit organization headquartered in New York
that has specialized in providing libraries all over the world with digitized versions of
periodicals (particularly those with long runs like the Antioch Review). Recently they
have branched out and now provide digital editions to individuals, corporations, and other
entities that want an electronic version of a current magazine.

In recent years numerous publications have eliminated their print editions in favor
of a single electronically formatted version appropriate for tablets, Kindles, Nooks,
personal computers, and other devices. Newsweek is now available only online and a year
ago The Wilson Quarterly asked their readers to accompany them on what they referred
to as a “digital journey.” They both went solo. Unlike these two distinguished
publications we have opted to go down the doppelganger road with our print version as
before, but now our shadow will be available for those of you (libraries and individuals)
who prefer to get your Antioch Review that way. We are now “double walkers.”

It is just common sense for us to continue with the print tradition and make the
necessary adjustment to the times. It will be the same magazine in both forms, and
included in both will be a four-color version of our handsome covers. The digital shadow
version will not be a minor league publication with also-ran authors appearing (those who
could not make the cut for the hard-copy print edition). They will be separate and equal.

For a number of years our good friend in London, James Campbell, an editor at
the TLS and Review author, has been publishing in his book column, N B, the results of
his Christmas used-book perambulations when he goes in search of books to give as
Yuletide gifts. He usually comes up with an interesting and assorted batch of titles
gleaned from shops near Charing Cross and Hampstead, spending a modest five pounds
per book.

In a recent issue of TLS (October 5, 2012) he describes at some length his
autumnal trek that sums up our sentiments about our desire to keep the old and embrace
the new: “Second-hand bookshops have been assumed to be in danger for several years
now, with reason. New York friends lament the disappearance of neighborhood
favourites. Abebooks can supply most things at the click of a mouse. Many people find
convenience in ebooks and e-readers, and if they are happy, we’re happy too. It makes us
even happier to report that all the shops we mentioned last year (sixteen) are still in
business. A book is a book is a book. You cannot own an ebook. It has no aesthetic
properties, no ornamentation, no weight, no smell, in short, no character. It offers no
choice between nice to handle and that experience’s opposite. It does not furnish a room.”

Our “product” line for this number leads off with an essay by one of our regulars,
Bruce Fleming, who—appropriately enough for a premier electronic issue—deals with
the question of obsolescence (e.g., the videocassette) and how its disappearance raises
questions about the nature of progress. Marcia Cavell’s memoir about her mother
(“Trains”) is about a transient life during a period when locomotives meant freedom.
Curious, of course, from the point of progress that they are still around both above and
even beneath the waters like in a Jules Verne story. Anis Shivani, a bold critic, explores
the characters that abound in contemporary novels inspired by cosmopolitan urban life on
several continents where multicultural values have seemingly won the literary day while
“bad” Muslims grab the headlines.

Jeffrey Meyers is back here once again with an assessment of Ted Hughes as a
war poet writing in the aftermath of “the war to end all wars” so evocatively presented in
Adam Hochchilds’s recent work. And finally our essay section concludes with a grisly
account of lion hunting by a young essayist and a sensitive look at both personal and
recent history.

Our short fiction is both serious and comic, with Paul Christensen and Robert
Ready on the dark side and Rick DeMarinis on the light side. Our poetry section has a
long poem by Richard Howard that explores the world of the Fifth Grade and our
Continental poetry expert John Taylor explores Florence and the ”inner world” poetry of
the neglected Italian modernist, Lorenzo Calogero (1910-1961).

We have taken the plunge into the electronic world and so far it has gone well.
We hope to see new subscribers and reach our older established audience. Whether you
are a flaneur or a double walker let us know your thoughts about this issue and the
progress we are making.

P.S. A mighty thanks to Muriel Keyes and the sophisticated professionals at JSTOR for
helping up us negotiate through the maze of the digital world that remains for some of us
a maze.