A Commentary–Winter 2023

D. W. White

Next month is the one-year anniversary of L’Esprit, conceived (of) in a Parisian bar hard up against the Seine (I think it was Pub Saint-Michel) in November and born online, as so much is these days, in February. It’s been an incredible year, and when we overuse excited here and on social media, it’s for good reason. To go from a third-beer idea in the Paris rain to a real living journal, one with contributors and readers and all that stuff of life, has been a wild, extraordinary thing. We’ve so far put out two full issues and a commemorative feature, with the last two, including Issue One, coming entirely from general submissions. We’ve got Issue Two ready to go, a start on Issue Three, and more already lined up as well. Most importantly, we have an expanding network of contributors, readers, and supporters who share our passion for exploring the boundaries of fiction, for refusing convention at the expense of truth, for always advancing the cause of fearless writing. That, one might say, is truly hors de prix

This Quarterly, our second, marks another milestone: our first inter-issue feature (the excellent idea of Associate Editor Jessica Denzer). In between full issues, each April and October, we’ll be including a few original pieces along with the Quarterly, as a way of keeping new work coming out regularly and changing speeds a bit from our standard editions. We’re very excited (there I go again) about the two essays we have for our debut, by Michael Nath and Lou Gallo, which are excerpted below and published in full on the website–our new Notes and Errata section will be the place to find these and all future features.

This is also Birthday Week at L’Esprit, coming between that of Virginia Woolf (Jan. 25) and James Joyce (Feb. 2). The work featured in this Quartelry engages in some way with our two most direct literary ancestors, and is our way of saying joyeux anniversaire to both. Woolf and Joyce were, of course, born in the same year, 1882, and would die mere months apart. It is one of life’s very odd cosmic amusements that these two titanic figures of Modernist art and literature would come in and go out of the world so closely together, as if the universe, having so lavishly distributed from its share of genius, had to take back its treasures all at once.

Birth and death, endings and beginnings; these are frequent partygoers at fiction’s soiree. They are timelessly and tirelessly written about, imagined, dreamed, remembered, forgotten, omitted, erased. Life, that walking shadow, certainly does not lack for brevity, but just as surely leaves its mark. With the ease of modern technology, L’Esprit came into the world painlessly–no grand prophecy here; Macbeth is saved–but it aims to have a long and challenging life, contesting literary convention, carving out a space for fearless, risk-adept writing, questioning what the word can and should do.

So, a year in, thank you to everyone who has read, contributed, and supported our endeavor. Thank you to Jessica Denzer, and thank you to all our literary ancestors. Much more to come.

D. W. White, 29 January 2023

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