The Partisan Review: January 1949 Issue
Page Count: 111
Short Summary // Thoughts
Reading this ended up being quite an unplanned delight. I originally heard about George Orwell’s famed essay Reflections on Ghandi, and went out to get a physical copy. Because Orwell published it in the Partisan Review, there were few options for reading it in book form, and so I found this actual 1949 issue online. When it arrived, I thought it was the coolest thing; the issue was slightly worn, had notes from its previous owners in the margins, and looking at the table of contents, had featured other great writers and topics as well.
Just out of curiosity, I decided to read the full magazine rather than just the Orwell piece, and I’m very glad I did. The issue is quite differentiated — a hilarious anecdotal piece by Leslie A. Fielder about the social dynamics of an evening with a drunkard (“An Expense of Spirit“), an incredibly dense and long Meyer Schapiro criticism of Eugene Fromentin (Fromentin as a Critic), two William Burford poems, a harsh and sardonic piece by Isaac Babel (“The Sin of Jesus,”) and the list goes on. The Orwell piece did not disappoint — it was a humanizing, nuanced 8-page criticism of Mahatma Gandhi that cut to the core of his outward myth and legacy, correctly predicting that future generations would conveniently forget many of the harder-to-reconcile elements of his asceticism.
The entire issue encases you in the collective mindshare of the post-war intellectual elite; the New Yorkers, Hollywoodites, and Parisians, and its a reminder of a world in sober transition. It came with a delightful postcard of Los Angeles’ Westlake Park — right next to the Helena Offices.