Quarterly Volume III || Spring 2023
Chers amis de L’Esprit,
Bienvenue à our third quarterly, Spring 2023! In this edition, we are featuring information about our reading for Issue Two, calls for submissions, a new Editorial Meditation, and more.
L’Esprit will be in Europe this summer, wandering between London, Paris, and Dublin in May and June. Look for suitably modernist updates on social, and in our Summer Quarterly, which promises to be rather extended.
As always we start, in the tradition of Eliot’s Criterion, with A Commentary.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about point of view. This isn’t so unusual a situation, I suppose, but specifically in the context of the challenge and power of a certain type of fiction, and of art, and when it comes across that ill-defined and ill-refined creature we call the marketplace. “POV” is a term often used in casual discussions of writing, from elementary school all the way to Lit Hub, and seems to defy easy, or standard, definition. Point of view, as the engine of literary fiction, is the angle from which a narration views a given perspective—but this is A Commentary, not an essay (more of those in the pages beyond). What is the point? That, much like “stream of consciousness” (about which I will refrain from discussion, and won’t dive into how strangely that Calypso phrase often is used or how—), POV is a term found in both the most general, lighthearted chats on literature and in the most (self-)serious, scholarly essays on criticism and theory. In short, it is a meeting place where both the marketers and the rogues may be found. What else might we find in so ominous a locale?
In this Issue, our second full length number, we have a remarkable range of writing. Jessica and I have had many conversations over the last few months about how many strong submissions we’ve begun to receive, making for some very hard choices both here and in Issue Three. No doubt, and happily-if-vexingly, we’ll have many more to make in the months and years ahead.
Issue Two sees the first ever L’Esprit Featured Writer, Michael Nath, who made an appearance in our Winter Quarterly and who’s here with a conversation and an extract from his new novel, Talbot and The Fall. We once again have stories and nonfiction from around the world, from Canada to New Zealand, Iran to Australia, New York to England. We have our first critical essay to appear in an issue written by someone other than me (finally!), in Nicole Blair’s excellent piece on Woolf and Literary Impressionism. And, we have a truly remarkable extract from Hormoz Shahdadi’s Night of Terror, translated by Rebecca Ruth Gould and Kayvan Tahmasebian.
Rebecca sent in the extract back in January, and we were able, with Kayvan’s tireless help, to secure scans of the book in the original Persian to appear alongside their translation. Night of Terror was published in Iran in 1978, and has very infrequently appeared in English. We are very excited to be able to feature this piece, not only for its history and legacy, but for its literary merit—it is an excellent example of fearless, risk-taking writing, both on and beyond the page.
And that, I think, is at the heart of what I find in my mind of late, in the form of my old protean friend POV. There will always, always, be space—in the literary world, on bookshelves, in agents’ inboxes, on publishers’ wishlists, and in those enlightening Ten Best Lists—for conventional writing, well-written or mostly so. As an editor, here at L’Esprit and in my role for West Trade Review, I find it is not my job, so much, to champion accessible, traditional, risk-adverse writing, because it so infrequently requires such aid. There is much conventional writing that I quite admire—The Great Gatsby, perhaps the most conventional novel in American literature, is among my very favorite books. I do not wish to keep such traditional styles and approaches out of the literary world, what small portion of it over which I have influence. It is not about closing doors, but rather opening them.
Because the unconventional work, the work that takes chances, that asks, demands, challenges, and trusts its reader, the writing that experiments with form and style, with technique and content—this is the work that needs a champion. It is the role of the editor to see the power and the importance of such writing, of literature that pushes us, that perceives and illuminates the world in new and difficult ways, and to carve out space for it to breathe. There will always be room for Jay Gatsby and his accessible voisin; it is Lily Briscoe, Lenore Beadsman, and Erin Adamo who need their seat saved—after all, they’re probably running a bit late.
We hope you find the collection of exceptional, revolutionary work that we’ve been able to compile for Issue Two engaging, illuminating, and above all, challenging. Thank you for your support of fearless writing, et à la prochaine.
D. W. White, 8 April 2023
Call for Submissions
L’Esprit is currently reading for Issue Three, due out in mid-October. We have a bit over half the issue already filled, which is a great sign for April.
We’re especially interested in getting more critical work (be it book reviews, literary criticism, autotheory, or craft essays), and writing in translation (we’d love something from French). Also, we’ve recently created a Submittable project dedicated to essay proposals.
See our Submission Guidelines for more details on all of the above.
L’Esprit is on Submittable!
Find us here.
Issue Two Reading
Come help us launch Issue Two for our second Zoom reading, featuring contributors presenting their work! Sunday, April 16th at 11:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time (GMT-7). Sign up using the link here:
L’Esprit is once again happy to share a few recent publication announcements from past contributors!
Louis Gallo’s new collection Ghostly Demarcations: New Poems: & The Pandemic Papers is now available
Eric Daffron’s “The Pianist’s Fingers: Fragments of Desire” in Synthesis: An Anglophone Journal of Comparative Literary Studies
Amy Marques’ “Fever High” and “Hide-and-Seek” in Flash Boulevard
Karen Walker’s “Sammy” in Pigeon Review & “The Reuben” in Culinary Origami
Richard Risemberg’s “The Empty Room” in Issue 26 of Del Sol Review & “Fried Baloney Sandwiches” in Rock and a Hard Place
Kent Kosack’s “Campland is a Store is a System is a Sphincter is the World” in Bruiser & “Winterfresh” in Vol. 1 Brooklyn
Milo P. Ono’s “Family Photo II” in Citron Review
G. M. Monks’ “Little Fears Flourishing” in The Ravens Perch
Karen Multer’s “The Yelling Man” in Black Fork Review
Félicitations à tous!
The Issue Two Reading will feature special guest Tangled Locks Journal, who will be bringing some of their contributors to read! Check out their great work on their website.
Issue Two Release
Issue Two is being released this week and next, leading to our reading on April 16th! Check our Twitter account (@LEspritLit) for a new piece each day.
A reminder that we now offer print and digital editions of all full issues, alongside our current online versions. The new section of the website, Le Magasin, is the place to find everything we’re selling.
Issues One and Two are available now, and future issues will be released in all three formats simultaneously. Thanks to everyone for the support!
To conclude, we have a preview of our latest, and certainly most fantastic, Editorial Meditation, from Associate Editor Jessica Denzer.
Bear with me Dear Reader:
It is no small secret that many modernist writers had complicated feelings about the modern world. Nietzsche’s precursor to “God is dead” is a passionate plea for the marriage of Apollo and Dionysus, which will force the mind and soul into a higher order of thinking unrestricted by the controlled pettiness of bourgeoises industrialism. Kafka would rather be a bug. And D.H. Lawrence, my favorite lit-bro, sees the modern world as a destructive and oppressive force set out to destroy men, masculinity, desire, sex, thought, mothers, fathers, earth, sky, dirt, water. Everything. Like many writers who emerge from the fin de siècle and straddle the before and after of the Great War, Lawrence sees industry as the effeminizing menace that denies true masculine connection with the natural world, and so inhibits one from existing in his natural state. This hibition renders men impotent, both figuratively, and often quite literally, intellectually, and physically.
Women too suffer from being denied, or perhaps seduced away from their natural feminine states through the false and sinister promises of modernity. Given no masculine counterpart, Connie of Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover is left bored and full of longing in her loveless marriage to Sir Clifford Chatterley, and her femininity becomes stifled and unfulfilled, wasted in all its glorious potential. Perhaps Connie’s most interesting counterparts would be the women of Sons and Lovers, particularly Gertrude Morel, whose coal mining husband is also unfulfilling due to his drunkenness, an element of Lawrence’s critique on the rise of industrial capitalism and the working class. Gertrude, unlike Connie, however, does not project her feminine desires onto a lover, a move that would perhaps have allowed her the basic sensual qualities required to nurture masculine potential, a la Clara Dawes, but instead channels them into her sons, creating a perverse dynamic of power over her children, particularly young Paul. In many ways, Paul and Sir Clifford are confronted with the same dilemma. For Paul, the dilemma is manifested in his controlling and passionate mother, for Clifford Chatterley it is the war, the Great Mother, who succeeds in crippling him. Both characters end up in the bosom of mothers, or mother-like characters, and neither end up happy or fulfilled. The most successful characters in Lawrence’s novels are those who find transcendence from and rejection of the modern menace. Connie and Mellors, the two lovers of Lady Chatterley, embrace the wildness of their natural states by disregarding social and marriage norms and embracing, though staunchly hetero, sexual taboos.
A little bit Dionysus, a little bit Apollo, Mellors, the gamekeeper, emerges from the wilderness as if in a fairytale and can point out Connie’s butthole from all the other holes in her body, to the delight of Lady Chatterley, and the misery of her husband. Sir Clifford Chatterley, who was paralyzed in the war from the waist down, and who cannot have sex with his wife, regards Mellors with disdain, claiming his intellectual superiority over the gamekeeper in an obvious attempt to hide his own masculine insecurities. It’s clearly all downhill for poor Clifford. Obviously his wife is headed into the arms of the stoic nature god of the woods. Connie and Mellors’ bodies naked, named, and entwined symbolized a sexual-sensual freedom granted by their wiliness to transgress the imprisonment of social modernity so that they can embrace their true masculine and feminine natures.
Thanks to those who’ve signed up to come support our readers! And if you’re hanging around France and the UK next month, let us know. Continue checking social for releases of Issue Two, and see everyone next Sunday!
Thank you for your support of fearless writing, and à la prochaine.