Danger: 1968– Richard Wilbur in the Sanctum

A glance backwards through the Advocate’s storied past: In 1968, the sanctum hosted a reading by Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Richard Wilbur.


Continue reading


Berceuse, by John Ashbery

Berceuse - John Ashbery

In preparation for The Harvard Advocate‘s upcoming 150th anniversary anthology, and in celebration of the launch of our brand new website, we’re reaching back into our archives for the previously-published work we’re most excited about. John Ashbery ’49, an Advocate member and an undisputed master of American poetry, frequently contributed to the magazine. His poem, “Berceuse,” was included in the Advocate‘s December 1947 issue.

From the Archives: Camus and Mann?

The November 1951 issue of The Harvard Advocate addressed a single theme: William Faulkner. Reviews, essays, and excerpts from dissertations crowded the now-yellowed pages of the magazine, tackling everything from the author’s novels to his childhood. Two names in particular jump out from the list of contributors: Albert Camus and Thomas Mann. The Advocate editors were eager to milk this literary windfall, placing their names in bold print on the cover of the issue, and noting their “gracious acknowledgment” to contributors including Camus and Mann “for making this issue possible.” In the Contributors’ Notes, the two are described as follows:

“ALBERT CAMUS, possibly France’s leading contemporary novelist, has seen his novel The Plague translated into nearly every modern language. A critic as well as a novelist, M. Camus has read widely in American fiction.

“THOMAS MANN is perhaps the most distinguished living novelist of the twentieth century, and his fictional and critical works need doubtless no introduction.”

Continue reading

Hat Trick: Gifts


As we usher in a new theme, hat trick, it seems only fitting to take a look back at “Hat Trick,” a seemingly lighthearted piece published in December of 1977. According to the information about contributors for the issue, the author, Alice Weil, was “a junior in the writing option.”

Weil’s prose piece traces exchanges of flowers through two phases of the narrator’s life, both before and during college. When Rachel finds herself in Cambridge, she meets Jeff. Jeff at the time “didn’t have a beard, but he was still tall and imposing in the style that strikes you either as alluring or ridiculous.” Jeff and Rachel share a night together, but fail to fully define their relationship. On her twentieth birthday of that year, she receives three gifts from three friends: a heather plant, a forsythia branch, and a bouquet of daisies and jonquils. As she leaves her teenage years behind, she seems to achieve a hat trick of gifts and “scores” three times. Yet, as the story comes to a close, Rachel looks at the note Jeff attached to the bouquet and realizes that he signed off with a sterile “—” rather than “Love.”

Poor Rachel.

Continue reading

From the Archives: Gilinsky and Feehan


Untitled, Image: Laura Gilinsky, Text: Noah Feehan, 8.5″ x 11″, Black and white Xerox,
The Harvard Advocate Fall Issue, 2002

Fractured faces smile above a whirring tessellation of legs and wheels, bodies broken and re-grafted in a latticework of steel and bone. Two lines of scrambled text scrawl beneath the image before terminating in a single, indecipherable word. The artwork is the result of two student artists – one having crafted text, the other the image it describes – and the piece thrums with division and recombination. The visual artist has taken a mild mid-twentieth century snapshot and fragmented the image, Xeroxing and re-Xeroxing rectangular portions onto a single plane, multiplying the mechanized reproductive mode of the photograph. The process of reproduction, akin to Warhol’s silk-screening, has preserved and introduced imperfections into the artwork. Some tessellated fragments are overexposed or contrastingly dark, others rough with large grains. The text repeats similar flaws in the inconsistency of ink and jumbled, offset type: the third line comprises the letters “g” and “e” and a final, crossed-out character. The relationship, however, between the text and the image is ambivalent. The process of creation and collaboration among artists is unclear and as a result parsing the dialectic between symbol and icon, reference and referent, falls to the viewer. Looking between text and image, the artwork begins to take on an erotic turn. The last word of “gex” links together a string of sexual phrases – “limbs”, “still warm from” and what could be “(k)issed” – and turns the viewer back to the content of the image. And yet on investigation Untitled presents not a passionate vision of two lovers on a motorbike, but a frustrated sensuality and a mechanistic neutering of the erotic. The legs of the young couple are reconfigured as gears of the automobile; natural locomotion and flesh propel only wheels. This reassignment becomes altogether menacing and the smiling faces of the motorcycle riders, many-headed and obscured by glasses and a scarf, appear less and less human. The image and its text point not only to the melding of man and machine, but moreover to the unsettling seams of such an alignment.

Continue reading

From the Archives: Djuna Barnes

“Reading Djuna Barnes is like reading a foreign language, which you understand,” said Marianne Moore about her friend and contemporary near the end of Barnes’s career. “The Perfect Murder,” printed by The Harvard Advocate in its 1942 75th Anniversary Issue, exemplifies the curious linguistic prowess that Moore praises. In fact, the study of “foreign [languages], which you understand” is the very occupation of Barnes’s protagonist, Professor Anatol Profax, a dialectologist (specialist of tongues). A crossbreed between Middlemarch’s intellectually stubborn Casaubon and Baudelaire’s voyeuristic flaneurs, Profax harbors his cherished work in the crook of his elbow as he haunts the streets with a removed aspect and attentive ears. He records the “figures of speech and preferred exclamations in all walks of life” in order to classify species of speakers. He bunch-indexes (Barnes’s term) the inarticulate of England, France, and America as “The Inveterates” and devises other groupings—among them “Excitable Spinsters” and “The Impulsive”—along lines of fanaticism, eloquence, and verbosity. Profax’s scrupulous science literalizes what Moore recognized as Barnes’s genius: she paid close attention to the subtleties of expression, and did not underestimate the potential of a single language to spawn multitudinous variations.

Djuna Barnes lived first in Greenwich Village, and then in Paris, during both cities’ bohemian heydays. It was in Paris that she became acquainted with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, like-minded contemporaries who together heralded the rise of the avant-garde. By the time “The Perfect Murder,” her last published story, appeared in The Harvard Advocate in 1942, Barnes was an established author. Her reputation at the time (at least within the Advocate) can be surmised from her inclusion in the anniversary issue, which the editors dedicated to “new material from the important figures in literature today.”

Continue reading