‘Music and Literature’ Features Two Essays on Hubert Selby, Jr. by Dr. Richard Wertime

By Purnell T. Cropper | September 27, 2012

The first issue of the new journal Music and Literature features two essays on the American fiction writer Hubert Selby, Jr. by Professor of English Dr. Richard Wertime. The first essay, “Reconsidering The Room: Afterthoughts on Selby’s Style” (pp. 75-86), offers a fresh reading of Selby’s second novel.

The second essay is a republication (with minor editorial changes) of a longer essay titled “Psychic Vengeance in Last Exit to Brooklyn” (pp.111-127) initially published in Literature and Psychology in 1974. An editor’s note accompanies this republication. It states, “[This] article remains the seminal investigation of the psychological dimensions of Hubert Selby, Jr.’s Last Exit to Brooklyn,” which was Selby’s groundbreaking work. It took the literary world by storm when it appeared in 1964.

“The success of this article on Last Exit to Brooklyn (which had already been republished earlier in Contemporary Literary Criticism), together with other critical material I had written on Hubert Selby, Jr., earned me the invitation to write the biographical entry on Selby for the Dictionary of Literary Biography, which task I undertook with pleasure,” says Wertime, who also is Director of Graduate Studies in English and the Humanities.

“It also pleased me to learn, from the editor of Music and Literature, who had access to Selby’s private papers while working on this first issue, that Selby had cited my work as being among the small body of literary criticism that showed true insight into and an understanding of his work. That he had written this comment in a letter to no less worthy a literary compatriot than Gilbert Sorrentino heightened my pleasure in learning that he had admired my work.”