Who has time to read journals in November, you ask? Sometimes you just have to stop and do it: it is so much easier to neglect journal-reading now that many of us access them electronically. Remember? They used to pile up next to the desk until either vacation would come, or you would clear the decks for three intense days of reading and throwing them away.
In any case, take the time now for one issue. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies vol. 17 no. 4 (2011) has devoted a special section to the memory of literary critic, poet, feminist and queer studies scholar Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (May 2 1950 – April 12 2009). It includes an essay on James Merrill by Sedgwick, introduced by her husband Hal, followed by reflections on Sedgwick and her work by Henry Abelove, Michael Moon, Kathryn Kent and Neil Hertz.
In a brief memoir of their friendship, “The Bar and the Board: for Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick,” Abelove recalls Sedgwick’s acute intellect, her intellectual courage, and the importance of her stance as an anti-homophobic feminist and as an academic who understood the critical importance of gay men’s scholarship. “Eve and I met only intermittently,” he notes:
Months, years, might pass between our meetings. She and I taught in different cities, we moved in mostly different circles, and we surely led very different lives. I can’t say that she and I ever came to be close. Yet I believe I remember every conversation we had. One started as a discussion of Merrill’s poetry and then meandered. It took place probably a few years after she wrote the essay now published here for the first time. It is an essay that focuses on Merrill while offering a brilliant meditation on the ties between fiction and poetry.
This captures a certain kind of intellectual friendship as perfectly as I have ever seen it described, one in which a compatibility of mind and mutual commitment to ideas bridges the gaps between conversations.