While the Sewanee Review entered the new year with a radical redesign and shift in editorial philosophy, the Hudson Review stayed on course with its familiar look and publishing vision. I overall liked the SR's changes, but was gladdened to see the Hudson Review sail along so resolutely.
Nowhere near as stodgy as the old Sewanee Review and more attuned to contemporary arts, the Hudson Review has long championed formal poetry, literary fiction, classical music, dance, serious criticism, history and political analysis. That won't change as long as longtime editor Paula Dietz remains in charge.
Founded in 1947 by Frederick Morgan, Dietz's late husband, the Hudson Review has long offered high-brow coverage of arts and culture. Unlike other journals, it has a board of contributing editors who write frequently, giving the HR a consistent tone. Outside contributors of poetry and short stories write traditional, non-exxperimental work.
The Winter 2017 shows the Hudson at its best, with strong reports on film, theater, art, dance and music and several engaging lyric poems displaying traditional virtues of language, rhyme and meter.
Highlights are poet and critic William Logan's informed and rigorous analysis of Emily Dickinson's poem "After Great Pain, a Formal Feeling Comes," and poet Mark Jarman's searching review of Edward O. Wilson's book, "Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life."
Jarman's review gives a useful synopsis of Wilson's ideas, which seek the preservation of the world's remaining wilderness areas for the saving of animal and plant species, many of which are disappearing. Jarman echoes Wilson's appeal to reason in the fight against climate change and halting the widespread loss of the other creatures with whom we share the planet. As an irrational, anti-science administration rampages along, the belief in reason is reassuring.
Longtime Hudson writer William H. Pritchard gives a thorough wrap-up of recent books on Evelyn Waugh, and Derwent May reports on British life in his "Letter from London."
Despite its small circulation, the Hudson Review fills a valued niche where progressive thought combines with the highest literary and cultural tradition. Its steadfast adherence to what Keats called truth and beauty stands out in this shallow, meretricious age.