Encounter (magazine) part 03



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Rising talent on the literary side

The range of literary figures, some young and others already established, whose first contributions to Encounter came during the 1970s included novelists Martin Amis, Italo Calvino, Elias Canetti, Margaret Drabble, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Paul Theroux, D.M. Thomas, William Trevor, critics and essayists Clive James, Gabriel Josipovici, Bernard Levin, David Lodge, Jonathan Raban, Wilfrid Sheed, Gillian Tindall, poets Alan Brownjohn, Douglas Dunn, Gavin Ewart, James Fenton, Seamus Heaney, Erica Jong, Michael Longley, John Mole, Blake Morrison, Andrew Motion, Tom Paulin, Peter Porter, Peter Reading, Peter Redgrove, Vernon Scannell, George Szirtes, and R.S. Thomas.

The 1980s and the end of the Cold War

The final decade for Encounter, the 1980s, was marked by regular elegy for old and distinguished friends of the magazine who had aged along with it, chief among them the Hungarian-born novelist and polymath Arthur Koestler and the influential French political philosopher and journalist Raymond Aron. And longtime social-democrat friend of the magazine, Sidney Hook, who in dying at 86 in July 1989 missed by less than six months the peaceful revolutions in Eastern Europe which were instinct with both the magazine's founding mission and his own democratic pragmatism, previewed his memoir Out of Step: An Unquiet Life in the Twentieth Century in Encounter in the mid-1980s. As Brezhnev gave way to Andropov, then to Chernenko and finally to Gorbachev, such contributors as former Labour cabinet secretary (Lord) Alun Chalfont were dedicated to exposing what they saw as the errors of assorted unilateralist disarmers in the peace movement and foes of nuclear deterrence as the influential English historian E.P. Thompson, as the Nato agreement to counteract Soviet SS-20s in the European theater took shape. The Polish resistance still covertly active after the crushing of the Solidarity trade union movement by martial law received ongoing coverage. Encounter's range of political contributors edged closer to the stateside neoconservative orbit found in the 1980s grouped round, e.g., Commentary, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, and the American Spectator.

Edward Pearce, a regular contributor to the magazine in the 1980s, claims that Encounter's editors reassigned him from political writing to theatre criticism after he repeatedly used his Encounter column to criticise the Thatcher government.

Though the literary side of Encounter throughout the 1980s featured a far smaller proportion of writers at the forefront of their national literatures as had its 1960s incarnation under Stephen Spender, and a 1983 change in cover design scrapped its austere "Continental" template in favor of a glossy look more characteristic of proverbially "slick" periodicals familiar from American newsstands, given the lofty heights from which it would recede, it still sustained its nonpolitical autonomy and ample proportions when the English poet Anthony Thwaite was replaced in 1985 by Richard Mayne, a veteran English journalist, broadcaster, translator from the French, the magazine's Paris correspondent and "M." columnist, and former assistant to Jean Monnet, architect of the European Economic Community.

Encounter published its final issue in September 1990, almost a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communist rule in the European satellites, and a year before the largely peaceful demise of Soviet rule itself. The magazine's end was brought about due to its increasing debts.

Recognition

Thanks to the uncommon distinction, disciplinary and geographic range of the contributors it brought together in one venue, most markedly during the years 1953–67 prior to the CIA-funding revelations, Encounter earned regard as a high-water mark in postwar periodical literature. In a review of recent work by Stephen Spender in The New Republic in 1963, the American poet John Berryman wrote, "I don't know how Spender has got so many poems done, especially because he does many things besides write poetry: he is a brilliant and assiduous editor (I would call Encounter the most consistently interesting magazine now being published)…" In the early 1970s, the American monthly Esquire said of Encounter that it was "probably not as good now as when it was backed by the CIA, but [it is] still the best general monthly magazine going." In the late 1970s, the Observer wrote that "Encounter is a magazine which constantly provides, in any given month, exactly what a great many of us would have wished to read... there is no other journal in the English-speaking world which combines political and cultural material of such consistently high quality", while the International Herald Tribune called Encounter "one of the few great beacons of English-language journalism... a model of how to present serious writing." And in a review in 2011 in The New Republic of a posthumous collection of essays by Irving Kristol, Franklin Foer wrote that "Encounter... deserve[s] a special place in the history of the higher journalism... [it] was some of the best money that the [CIA] ever spent. The journal, published out of London, was an unlikely coupling of the New York intelligentsia with their English counterparts—an exhilarating intermarriage of intellectual cultures. I am not sure that any magazine has ever been quite so good as the early Encounter, with its essays by Mary McCarthy and Nancy Mitford, Lionel Trilling and Isaiah Berlin, Edmund Wilson and Cyril Connolly. In his typically self-effacing manner, Kristol heaped credit upon Spender for the achievement."

Most prolific authors

The following is a list of all authors who appeared in Encounter at least 10 times:

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