Ross Lockridge, Jr. Raintree County. Penguin Books, 1994. 1,060 pages. Literary agent Robert Lescher and I managed to get Houghton Mifflin to revert rights, and this paperback edition was published simultaneously with Shade of the Raintree. The idea was to create "a publishing event." Viking had contracted with me to produce a hardcover also but at the last minute reneged, citing that it would cost readers at least $50.00 a copy. I reluctantly signed, agreeing to scuttle the deal. This Penguin Books 1994 paperback is the only fully correct text of the novel ever printed. My father lamented from the beginning that there were six or seven typos and a dropped line of verse. They really bugged him. One phrase on p. 152, "Wasn't Jesus God's [bastard]?" was regarded as blasphemous by the clergy in 1948 and deleted by Houghton Mifflin and Book-of-the-Month Club after the pre-publication run of 50,000. These errors and the deleted phrase were perpetuated in every printing of the novel up to 1994. I had them corrected and declined to write an introduction. The process of getting rights reverted and the novel into print at Viking/Penguin had gone on for three tedious years. So that the novel not be misplaced in Travel sections, the words "The Great American Novel of Love, Tragedy, and Heroic Vision" are printed on the cover, partially covering the nude female geoglyph that scandalized prudes in 1948.
Ross Lockridge, Jr. Raintree County. Chicago Review Press, 2007. 1,060 pages. In print and available at Chicago Review Press and on Amazon. http://www.chicagoreviewpress.com "The Ross Lockridge, Jr. Archive: A Descriptive Bibliography," http:hdl.handle.net/2022/19694 This bibliography describes the thousands of items by and about Ross Lockridge, Jr., archived at The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
This edition, still in print, has a remarkable foreword by Herman Wouk, who had liked my biography. I asked him by snailmail if he would write a foreword for this edition, and didn't hear back from him. One early morning I was awakened by my landline: "Hello, Mr. Lockridge, this is Herman Wouk." "Who?" "Herman Wouk, did you receive my fax?" Not fully awake, I replied no. He'd sent a fax to my academic department that hadn't reached me. This is some of what Herman Wouk writes: "Once long ago when I reread Raintree County, I had a momentary impulse to write a literary critique, something I never do, to be called 'He Came, and Ye Knew Him Not.' By him I mean the author of 'the great American novel.' For I realized in that reading that Ross Lockridge had pursued and—insofar as ye could—captured the phantom prize he was really after, with movie money the furthest thing from his aspiring spirit . . . Only when I read his son's threnody did the full tragic picture come clear to me."
Nineteenth-Century Lives. Essays presented to Jerome Hamilton Buckley. Edited by Laurence S. Lockridge, John Maynard, and Donald D. Stone; bibliography compiled by David M. Staines. Cambridge University Press, 1989, rpt. 2008. 216 pages. In print and available at Cambridge University Press and on Amazon. http://firstname.lastname@example.org
Jerome Buckley, the great Victorianist, was my dissertation director at Harvard. Colleagues and former students were invited to contribute essays on matters biographical and autobiographical. They include original essays by Richard Altick, Margaret Atwood, Morton Cohen, Norman Kelvin, Robert Kiely, J. Hillis Miller, Phyllis Rose, John Rosenberg, Margaret Stetz, and Carl Woodring.
Mary Jane Ward, The Snake Pit (Random House, 1946). This novel will be available at The Library of America, June, 2021 and on Amazon. http://www.loa.org
Mary Jane Ward (1905-81) was my double second cousin, once removed. Author of eight novels, she is best known for her autobiographical The Snake Pit (Random House, 1946), which had great influence on mental health asylums in the United States and abroad. It introduced the term "snake pit" as a metaphor for these asylums. Having licensed the novel from Random House, The Library of America asked me to write an afterword to the 75th anniversary edition, to be published summer, 2021. The novel has been out of print for decades. I came to know Mary Jane well from the age of four when she and her husband frequently visited her cousin Ross's surviving family in Bloomington, Indiana. She and I dined together in Boston in 1967 to celebrate donation of her papers to the Boston University special collections, which I visited in researching my afterword. I dwell on the relationship of her life to the novel, the formal aspects of her absorbing novel that continue to be striking, the differences between the novel and the notable 20th Century-Fox adaptation of 1948 starring Olivia de Havilland, and Mary Jane's subsequent formidable efforts as a national spokesperson for mental health reform.