“Encounter Magazine”


Founded in 1953 and published through 1990, the Anglo-American, London-based monthly periodical Encounter, was initially sponsored by the Paris-based Congress for Cultural Freedom, covertly funded in its early years by the CIA and MI6 and initially edited by the English poet Stephen Spender and the American political essayist Irving Kristol. Encounter, especially at its 1960s peak of prestige, published a remarkable range of front-rank literary figures, historians, philosophers, economists, and journalists from all over the world. Kristol’s replacement on the magazine’s political side in 1958 by the American journalist Melvin J. Lasky, a figure with extensive contacts in Germany since WWII, helped to deepen its coverage of Continental political and cultural life, among the anti-Communist resistance not least, as well as of affairs in the newly-decolonized nations of Africa and Asia. The topics engaged, and the contributors enlisted over the journal’s thirty-seven years, initially the incarnation of a 1950s Cold War liberal consensus, eventually came to track the rise of the “neoconservative” tendency in Anglo-American intellectual journalism, and its tension with the left-liberalism prevailing in such newly modish forums as The New York Review of Books. Though its contents came to include many now commonly described as neoconservative, Encounter continued until its 1990 demise to afford space alongside them and on a larger scale than did its closest American counterpart, Commentary, to both writers from the center-left in its political pages, and to writers from the main stream of literary world in its still-quite autonomous pages devoted to books and the arts. This latter aspect was fortified by the continued presence from the first of a literary co-editor drawn from the ranks of English poets. The political topics and writers engaged in the magazine’s final two decades, from 1970 to 1990, presaged the erosion of the old postwar social-democratic consensus, the arrival of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, and the collapse of the Soviet regime in Russia.

Encounter (magazine)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia





Encounter was a literary magazine, founded in 1953 by poet Stephen Spender and early neoconservative author Irving Kristol. The magazine ceased publication in 1991. Published in the United Kingdom, it was a largely Anglo-American intellectual and cultural journal. The magazine received covert funding from the Central Intelligence Agency, after the CIA and MI6 discussed the founding of an “Anglo-American left-of-centre publication” intended to counter the idea of cold war neutralism. The magazine was rarely critical of American foreign policy, but beyond this editors had considerable publishing freedom.[1]

Spender served as literary editor until 1967, when he resigned[2] due to the revelation that year of the covert Central Intelligence Agency funding of the magazine, of which he had heard rumors, but had not been able to confirm. Thomas W. Braden, who headed the CIA’s International Organizations Division‘s operations between 1951 to 1954, said that the money for the magazine “came from CIA, and few outside the CIA knew about it. We had placed one agent in a Europe-based organization of intellectuals called the Congress for Cultural Freedom.”[2][3] Frank Kermode replaced him but he too resigned when it became clear the CIA were involved.[4] Roy Jenkins noted that earlier contributors were aware of U.S. funding, but believed it came from philanthropists including a Cincinnati gin distiller.[5]

Encounter celebrated its greatest years in terms of readership and influence under Melvin J. Lasky, who succeeded Kristol in 1958, and would serve as the main editor until the magazine closed its doors in 1991. Other editors in this period included D. J. Enright.

Journals of opinion and precedents

The intellectual journal of opinion, it is often said, resembles nothing so much as a pantomime horse, with its front half devoted to analysis of the immediate political developments of the week or fortnight, trimmed more or less to fit a known ideological or partisan agenda – and its “back of the book” of book and arts reviews, held to little such discipline, affording freer range to varied literary and artistic minds to assay finished works of the imagination presumed to sustain an interest outlasting the date of issue. In the Anglo-American context, the weeklies Spectator and the New Statesman, nominally if broadly Tory and Labour, respectively, remain the most prominent such journals in England, with both their stateside counterparts, the Nation and the New Republic, on the other hand, said to represent the liberal point of view. A business-then-pleasure division may also mark the more infrequently-issued “little magazine”, as was the case with the American quarterly Partisan Review (1933-2003), whose inaugural decades of greatest fame and distinction were marked by a twin devotion to advanced Marxist or Trotskyist ideals in politics – and in literature to high modernism, whose reigning deities, it was often noted, seldom held such modish commitments, and were indeed often given to everything from Anglo-Catholic royalism to Fascistflirtations to mere political quietism in service to the non-programmatic demands of Art.

Founding and first editors

Such precedents lay not far from the launch in October 1953 of Encounter, the monthly Anglo-American journal of politics and culture, sponsored by the Paris-based Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), an organization of largely center-left artists and intellectuals founded in 1950 and dedicated, in line with its title, to countering on behalf of the non-communist West the overtures and influence in culture of the Soviet Union, still under the Communist Party rule of Joseph Stalin until 1953.

The at-the-time undisclosed back-channel partial funding of Encounter by the Central Intelligence Agency (and Britain’s MI6), via such American organizations as the Farfield Foundation, and thence to the CCF, has been a source of epic controversy since that funding was revealed in 1967 in the pages of Ramparts, the New York Times, and the Saturday Evening Post, to the point where recall of the actual contents of the magazine, and of its extraordinary, interdisciplinary and international range of distinguished authors, have often figured as relative footnotes. In point of fact, the unfolding contents of Encounter over its thirty-seven years, from 1953 through 1990, in both its political and cultural, if not formally demarcated, halves, afford an unsurpassed, satellite’s-eye vantage from which to view both developments of enduring significance in world literature and in shifting patterns of high-journalistic political allegiance, most notably in the latter sphere, in the shifts on both sides of the Atlantic triggered by the rise of the “neoconservative” tendency in opposition to the prevailing left-liberal tendencies and organs of elite opinion presaging the rise ofRonald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, the eventual collapse of the Soviet empire, and the struggles in the western democracies over the role of the market vs. that of the central state.

The choices for the first two Encounter co-editors, the American political essayist Irving Kristol (1920-2009) and the English poet Stephen Spender (1909-1995) were telling, and in retrospect can be seen to have set in template much of the course of the magazine’s evolution even over its final twenty-three years succeeding the resignation in 1967, after the CIA-funding revelation, of Spender.

Irving Kristol and the New York Intellectuals

Irving Kristol edited the political articles in Encounter from 1953 until 1958, and though still a self-described liberal then, was already laying the foundations of his eventual fame, from the late 1970s until his death in 2009, as the “godfather of neoconservatism”. Blooded in the legendary alcoves of the City College of New York cafeterias of the late 1930s, where Marxist and Trotskyist and Stalinist squabbled and subdivided far into the night, and eventually after their B.A.s, even further into the pages of Partisan Review, Kristol had already as of 1952, in his writings in Commentaryduring the McCarthy years[6], set the tone for the neo-populist critique of liberal ”new class” elites he would later seed during his almost forty-year stint (1965-2002) as founding co-editor of The Public Interest, the influential public-policy quarterly.

Stephen Spender and the English literary legacy

Stephen Spender cut a larger figure in strictly cultural circles, though with strong political engagements of his own – he was, at 44, one of England’s leading and eventually-canonic men of letters of his generation, having been a prime constituent of the fabled 1930s “MacSpaunday” generation of young English poets whose other members included Louis MacNeiceW.H. Auden, and C. Day Lewis. During his brief Communist phase in the 1930s, he had served in the Spanish Civil War with the anti-Franco International Brigades, and later contributed to the famous 1949 essay collection The God That Failed, whose other authors disillusioned with Communism included Louis FischerAndré GideArthur KoestlerIgnazio Silone, and Richard Wright; Koestler and Silone would in turn become from its outset regular contributors to Encounter. Spender’s apprenticeship in the editor’s chair had come over a decade before when he served as deputy to the celebrated English aesthete Cyril Connolly in editing, for its first two years, the influential literary monthly Horizon (1940-1949), many of whose writers would show up in Encounter in due course throughout the 1950s and after.

Spender’s range of cultural contacts, in and out of the academic world, combined with the high-stakes sense of Cold War cultural mission driving the Paris-based CCF, enabled Encounter to publish, especially during its first fourteen years prior to the revelation of the early CIA funding and the high-profile defections so provoked, an international galaxy of poets, short-story writers, novelists, critics, historians, philosophers and journalists, from both sides of the Iron Curtain, the likes of which had not been seen before, and would not be seen since, in any twentieth-century English-language monthly. The long tail of the BloomsburyWorld War I and Bright Young Things generations of the early 20th century was a marked feature of the early years of Spender’s tenure atop the Encounter literary pages, chockablock with assorted Graveses,[7] Huxleys,[8] Mitfords,[9] Russells,[10] Sitwells,[11] StracheysWaughs and Woolfs – Virginia in posthumous diary form,[12]her surviving husband Leonard as political essayist and reviewer.[13]

Celebrity dons

Along with such other venues at the high watermarks of cultural life in the otherwise austerity Britain of the 1960s as the highbrow Third Programme of the BBC, its highlights transcribed each week into the The Listener, and the lavish weekend-review pages of the Observer and Sunday TimesEncounter provided a prime forum for a stable of celebrity dons from the faculties of Oxford,Cambridge, and London – Isaiah BerlinHugh Trevor-Roper, and A.J.P. Taylor primus inter pares among them – who discussed European history and the great thinkers helping to shape it. Trevor-Roper launched two of the most celebrated historians’ attacks of the day, one on Arnold Toynbee’s bestselling ten-volume Study of History,[14] and on The Origins of the Second World War by A. J. P. Taylor.[15]

Celebrated early outings by Encounter belletrists came when Nancy Mitford[16] and Evelyn Waugh[17] playfully debated over successive issues the fine points of upper-class vs. lower-class English usage (“U and non-U”), as did C.P. Snow[18] and others,[19] if less playfully, Snow’s depiction within of a yawning chasm of mind between the “Two Cultures” of the hard science and the humanities. Among the magazine’s early luminaries in aesthetics and the history of art were Stuart Hampshire[20] and Richard Wollheim.[21] [22]

Political contours

On the political side of Encounter, Kristol brought on board a good portion of those “New York Intellectuals”, both journalist/literary/polemical and social-scientific, among whom he had passed the years of his apprenticeship: the sociologists Daniel Bell[23] and Nathan Glazer,[24] who, respectively, would later serve as his successive co-editors (and, like Spender, political foils, especially in Bell’s more pronounced case) at the Public InterestSidney Hook,[25] and, not least, the ideological hummingbird and scourge of “Midcult” Dwight Macdonald,[26] who spent a year (1955-1956) in London as Associate Editor, a tenure with which he would later attempt to make a retrospective reckoning in his “Politics” column in Esquire for June 1967 in what he would describe several months later as his “Confessions of an Unwitty CIA Agent”.[27] Mainline Americans for Democratic Action-style left-liberal Democrats such as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.[28] and John Kenneth Galbraith[29] rounded out the American contours in politics, while the early English contributions in politics came largely from the center-right, social-democratic, anti-Communist, anti-unilateral-disarmament wing of the Labour fold, as represented most prominently by C. A. R. Crosland[30] (a close friend of Daniel Bell), R. H. S. Crossman,[31] and David Marquand,[32] with such occasional heterodox and erudite Tory journalists as Peregrine Worsthorne[33] and the young Henry Fairlie[34] broadening the coverage.

Melvin Lasky and the 1960s

The transition to Kristol’s replacement on the political side of Encounter in 1958 by Melvin J. Lasky (1920-2004) was seamless, and a key factor both in the broadening of the magazine’s international scope to include a deeper extension of its European coverage, from the Soviet bloc not least, as well as its coverage of the newly-decolonized nations of Africa and Asia. After combat with the 7th army and postwar service in Berlin under military governor Lucius Clay, Lasky founded the influential German-language highbrow monthly Der Monat (The Month), and, amid an adult life spent largely ever since in Germany, was enlisted in 1955 back in New York to edit the first two numbers of The Anchor Review (1955-1957), an annual published by the new Anchor Booksimprint of Doubleday, fruit of the 1950s quality-paperback revolution spearheaded by Jason Epstein, and whose international roster of high-humanist contributors – Auden, Connolly, Koestler, Silone – made it resemble a concurrent mini-Encounter.

Ties to Eastern bloc resistance

During his 32 years at Encounter, Lasky, with his balding head and Van Dyke beard centrally cast as an inverted Lenin, proved instrumental in the long and dedicated cultivation of contacts from among the persecuted writers of PolandEast GermanyHungaryRomania, the Soviet Union, and then-Yugoslavia, and devoted extensive front-cover coverage throughout the 1960s and 1970s to the judicial travails in Russia of Andrei Sinyavsky [35] (aka “Abram Tertz”, under which nom de plume several samizdat short stories appeared), Yuli DanielJoseph Brodsky[36] and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and in Poland to the case of Leszek Kolakowski,[37] the philosopher exiled to the West in 1968 by the Polish Communist Party, and who became one of the magazine’s defining contributors, whose blend of intellectual history and anti-Soviet militance made him a sort of Slavic cross between Isaiah Berlin and Sidney Hook. A special 65-page anthology in April 1963, “New Voices in Russian Writing,”[38] presented, with the aid of translations by poets W.H. Auden, Robert Conquest, Stanley Kunitz and Richard Wilbur, a selection of the the latest works of the rising generation of Russian poets and short-story writers, among them Andrei VoznesenskyYevgeny Yevtushenko, and Vasily Aksyonov (“Matryona’s Home,”[39] the most-read short story by Solzhenitsyn, was held over till the next issue).

Focus on decolonized nations

As for the nations of the so-called “developing world”, thanks in part to Spender’s early attention to matters echt-English, the aftermath of the British Empire not least, Indian affairs, especially as they involved writers and intellectuals, were prominent on the contents page, with the heterodox essayist and memoirist Nirad Chaudhuri[40] among the earliest of the magazine’s long-serving correspondents from the subcontinent. Lasky, for his part, having written and published Africa For Beginners in 1962, made a point of devoting a special issue to that continent, along with others devoted to Asia and Latin America.

Changing times

Thanks in no small part to its glittering cultural content and the temper of the times it reflected, virtually the whole of the decade of the 1960s would prove to be the high-water mark of Encounter’s time on the world newsstand. As distinguished symposiasts from divers spheres debated in its political sections such matters as the advisability of Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community, the expansion of its tax-funded higher-education system, the aftermath of empire and the strains of assimilating the influx of immigrants from the decolonized nations, the latest false dawn for socialists in Cuba, a rising generation of critics and scholars engaged the newly arrived high thinkers of the age – Clifford GeertzR.D. LaingClaude Levi-StraussKonrad LorenzGyörgy LukácsMarshall McLuhan – and speculated on the prospect of other false dawns in culture rather than politics. In the case of the imagined Arcadia presaged by the new wave of “high pornography”, reformers like Olympia Press founder Maurice Girodias[41] weighed in for the defense, with conservative sociologist Ernest van den Haag[42] countering with a measured defense of the social need for both pornography and censorship, with the young George Steiner,[43] a Holocaust-haunted polymath of great erudition and mannered style, and a regular as of 1966 in bothEncounter and the books pages of the New Yorker, dissenting from what to him seemed the neo-totalitarian import entailed by the literal stripping of literary characters of any vestige of privacy, in contrast to the more artful metaphoric indirections of such masters as Dante.

Centrality of English poets

Encounter’s prodigal amplitude in the range of worldwide poets it published throughout was in part a function of the fact that almost all its literary co-editors included the poetic vocation among his roles, with the unfolding succession after Spender’s departure in 1967 (he had stepped back to serve as Corresponding Editor while in America 1966-1967, with the distinguished academic literary critic Frank Kermode as his substitute) including the critics, novelists and poets Nigel Dennis (1967-1970) and D.J. Enright (1970-1972), and poet Anthony Thwaite (1973-1985), ensuring the ongoing enlistment of rising talent in the metrical sphere. Of special mention here were the poets loosely affiliated from the early 1950s on in what was called The Movement (literature) – Kingsley AmisRobert ConquestDonald DavieD.J. EnrightThom GunnElizabeth JenningsPhilip Larkin, and John Wain, who together contributed long and often to the magazine, in many cases, as the names will suggest, in fiction and in essays as well. In poetry they tended to a renewed formalism, and to the extent they were political, thanks in later part (especially upon, e.g., the Amis family, Kingsley and Martin) to the pioneering researches of Conquest in his guise as independent historian of the Stalin years in Russia (The Great Terror, 1968), to a skeptical attitude toward facile, standard-issue go-ahead progressive left-liberalism.

Left-liberals vs. early neoconservatives

The more explicit development of that very skepticism, as it happened, came to mark the evolution of the political side of Encounter as it entered the 1970s and beyond. The ideological fissures in the world of Anglo-American political/literary journals began to see hairline crack turn to outright cleavage in the wake of the rise of the neoconservative tendency. The biweekly New York Review of Books, founded in 1963, began to enlist from its outset a regular roster of the cream of the very sort of prestige British humanists and scientific essayists who had so distinguished themselves in the pages of Encounter in its first ten years, creating a rival outlet for them whose greater prominence in the much larger American market would only deepen after the 1967 high-profile resignations of Spender and Kermode, both of them at the very summit of Anglo-American literary life. The then largely intra-Democratic rifts issuing from reactions to, e.g., the Vietnam War, student radicalism and the New Left, urban strife, the Great Society, the rise of Black Power and affirmative action, played out on the contents pages of the highbrow journals in a sharpening of sides among the political contributors to the liberal-to-radical (in politics if not in art and literature) New York Review in opposition to the post-1970 rightward shift of Commentary under Norman Podhoretz; the New York Review had already as of its third year (1965, when Kristol and Bell founded The Public Interest) shed the future neoconservatives who had marked its first two years.[44]Another sign of the times came in 1972, when Daniel Bell, firmly of the social-democratic, anti-Stalinist, Old Left/Menshevik tendency, resigned from his co-editorship of the Public Interest, rather than strain his long friendship with Irving Kristol, who had recently left the Democratic fold and come out for Richard Nixon, easing into his final four decades in the ideological orbit of, e.g., the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. Some among the nascent neoconservatives, like Bell’s successor Nathan Glazer, would remain loyal Democrats, while others would form the advance intellectual guard of the “Reagan Democrats who played a pivotal role in the 1980 and 1984 elections.

The autonomy of art

At Encounter these cleavages played out in a rather less ruptured, more gradual, more diversified and less overtly hostile manner. For one thing, its always-extensive literary pages retained a back-of-the-book autonomy, above the roiling polemical waters of the day, of a sort increasingly rare over time in Podhoretz’s Commentary, in which the multiple-front assaults on the New Left, thecounterculture, radical feminism, Cold War dovishness, and other such deviations came to assume a monolithic editorial supremacy – “culture war is hell and there are no aesthetes in a foxhole”, as Franklin Foer put it in 1997.[45] By contrast, Encounter retained until its end of days a pronounced overlap with the artistically-conservative focus, in both topics and often in contributors, of the formally artistic and historical side of the New York Review – divers dons from Oxbridge and London assaying the latest English literary biographies, the latest historians’ “storms over the gentry” of seventeenth-century England, and, as always, new poetry and fiction.

Even in its formally political content, though, Encounter, no doubt in part as the result of its base in London rather than in New York, played something of an ongoing mediator’s role vis-a-vis the squabbling left-liberals and neocon hatchlings, helping keep it in demand and clean and dry atop mid-Atlantic coffee tables otherwise subject stateside to the detritus of splashed cabernet and flung brie.

Though the student revolts of the late 1960s drew sharp rebukes in Encounter from the likes of Sidney Hook, and Robert Nisbet,[46] the editors did not see fit to throw out the humanist baby with the radical bathwater, and so, for example, the socialist critic Irving Howe, editor of Dissent and an Old Left stalwart, was still, with such contributions as a discerning essay on Zola,[47] still very much representative of a central tradition within of socially engaged criticism that was to those in the Encounter orbit, at once critical of the injustices of the status quo yet firmly anti-fanatic, anti-totalitarian and fiercely resistant to forms of radicalism that, especially in the academy, sought to “revise” Stalin back into favor.[48]

The 1970s

The economic sclerosis of the 1970s, afflicting all the world’s advanced democracies with a corrosive blend of decade-long inflation, sector-wide industrial strikes, overburdened welfare states expanded under pressure of an affluence-driven “revolution of rising expectations”, the overturning of the supremacy of Keynesian economics under a simultaneous inflation and recession long thought inconceivable, and the resulting unraveling of the postwar, bipartisan social-democratic consensus – such was the stuff of a good portion of the debate on domestic affairs within Encounterthroughout the 1970s. Those from the center-left addressing such topics included the veteran analysts of capitalism Andrew Shonfield[49] and Robert Skidelsky, biographer of the English fascist leader Oswald Mosley and later of Keynes, and economic historian of Depression Britain. Among those from the developing New Right to assail eminent thinkers leftward was the Australian-born LSE political scientist Kenneth Minogue, among whose many contributions was a stinging rebuke to John Kenneth Galbraith for offering, in his popular 1977 documentary series The Age of Uncertainty, far more wit than wisdom[50] – a charge to which the Harvard economist replied, wittily.[51] Ferdinand Mount, novelist and political writer, then in his thirties and later to serve as a Thatcherite policy adviser early the next decade, did regular double duty as political essayist and book reviewer. And thirty years after The Road to Serfdom had made the name of Friedrich A. Hayek famous among the non-economist educated public, the Austrian-born thinker, in the decade that saw his wrtings earn him both the Nobel Prize in Economics and a starring role in the education of the English prime minister newly arrived at its end, contributed four essays in the history of ideas, among them one on “The Miscarriage of the Democratic Ideal”[52] and another on his cousin Ludwig Wittgenstein.[53]. Shirley Robin Letwin took the influential American liberal legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin to task for promoting judicial activism in his signature work Taking Rights Seriously,[54] while the young conservative philosopher Roger Scruton,[55] a recent Encounter hand, examined the cultural roots of latter-day ills, and economist E.J. Mishan[56] assayed the parasitic moral hazards arising from economic growth. And lively debate over the North-South divide, the Brandt Report, and western foreign aid to the Third World was on hand courtesy of the prestigious development economist Peter Bauer[57] and his critics.

The hazards of detente

In foreign affairs in the 1970s,Encounter’s prime interests, along with Euro-terrorism and Euro-communism, included the strains upon the detente with the Soviet Union inaugurated during the Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford years posed by the military buildup and underlying intentions, conventional and nuclear, of the Soviet Union, the latter’s renewed adventurism-by-proxy in the Middle East and in Africa, and its ongoing abuses in human rights and in the coerced psychiatric treatment of dissidents. One of the prime set-pieces among the hawk-vs-dove needle-matches underway came with a six-installment series in which the eminent diplomat-historian – and famed “containment” theorist of the first years of the Cold War – George F. Kennan,[58] then in his early seventies, squared off against his critics in the form of several interviews he had granted to George Urban of Radio Free Europe, with detailed rejoinders – and another mutual follow-up round – in succeeding issues by the veteran historian of the Russian empire at the University of London’s School of Slavonic and Eastern European StudiesHugh Seton-Watson,[59] by Richard Pipes of Harvard[60] – the latter due in several years for a post helping Ronald Reagan plot strategy toward the Soviets – and Leopold Labedz,[61] Polish-born editor of Survey, a quarterly journal of Soviet-bloc affairs. The exchanges, marked each time on the part of Kennan’s critics by a ritual and almost incantatory deference to his stature and role as almost Old Testament wise man, grew increasingly testy on both sides, with Seton-Watson accusing Kennan of allowing his aristocratic-utopian hand-wringing over Western cultural degeneracy to vanquish his sense of the moral urgency and legitimacy of the west’s need to better defend itself against a newly-hardened foe, with Pipes accusing him of an overly-optimistic estimate of relaxation in Soviet military strategy since the death of Stalin, charges amplified by Labedz. Kennan, for his part in reply, fired back from several angles with a long-running complaint of his, perhaps best summarized as: nobody understands me.

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 AmisItalo CalvinoElias Canetti,Margaret DrabbleRuth Prawer JhabvalaPaul TherouxD.M. ThomasWilliam Trevor, critics and essayists Clive JamesGabriel JosipoviciBernard LevinDavid LodgeJonathan RabanWilfrid SheedGillian Tindall, poets Alan BrownjohnDouglas DunnGavin EwartJames FentonSeamus HeaneyErica JongMichael LongleyJohn MoleBlake MorrisonAndrew MotionTom Paulin,Peter PorterPeter ReadingPeter RedgroveVernon ScannellGeorge 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[62] and the influential French political philosopher and journalist Raymond Aron.[63] 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[64] 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[65] 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.

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 byRichard 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 theEuropean 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.


Thanks to the uncommon distinction, disciplinary and geographic range of the contributors it brought together in one venue, most markedly during the years 1953-1967 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 callEncounter the most consistently interesting magazine now being published) … “[66] 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.”[67] 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.”[68]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.”[69]

Most prolific authors

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


  1. ^ How the CIA plotted against usFrances Stonor SaundersNew Statesman, 12 July 1999
  2. a b “Stephen Spender Quits Encounter”. The New York Times. 1967-05-08.
  3. ^ Thomas W. Braden (1967-05-20). “I’m glad the CIA is ‘immoral'”. The Saturday Evening Post.
  4. ^ Sir Frank Kermode obituaryThe Guardian.
  5. ^ Roy Jenkins. A Life at the CentrePolitico’s. p. 118. ISBN 978-1-84275-177-0.
  6. ^ Irving Kristol,”‘Civil Liberties,’ 1952 — A Study in Confusion“, Commentary, March 1952: “There is one thing that the American people know about Senator McCarthy: he, like them, is unequivocally anti-Communist. About the spokesmen for American liberalism, they feel they know no such thing. And with some justification.”
  7. ^ Robert Graves in Encounter, 1953-1974, 13 items via Unz.org.
  8. ^ Aldous Huxley in Encounter, 1954-1962, 4 items via Unz.org.
  9. ^ Nancy Mitford in Encounter, 1955-1959, 2 items via Unz.org
  10. ^ Bertrand Russell in Encounter, 1953-1959, 4 items via Unz.org
  11. ^ Edith Sitwell in Encounter, 1953-1962, 3 items via Unz.org.
  12. ^ Virginia Woolf, “Pages from a Diary,” Encounter, October 1953, pp. 5-11.
  13. ^ Leonard Woolf in Encounter, 1954-1964, 6 items via Unz.org.
  14. ^ “… every chapter of it has been shot to pieces by the experts … It is written in a style compared with which that of Hitler or Rosenberg is that of Gibbonian lucidity … As a dollar-earner, we are told, it ranks second only to whisky.” H. R. Trevor-Roper, “Arnold Toynbee’s Millennium,” Encounter, June 1957, pp. 14-27.
  15. ^ H.R. Trevor-Roper, “A. J. P. Taylor, Hitler, and the War,” Encounter, July 1961, pp. 88-96.
  16. ^ Nancy Mitford, “The English Aristocracy,” Encounter, September 1955, pp. 5-12.
  17. ^ Evelyn Waugh, “An open letter to the Hon’ble Mrs. PETER RODD (NANCY MITFORD) on A VERY SERIOUS SUBJECT from EVELYN WAUGH,” Encounter, December 1955, pp. 11-16
  18. ^ C. P. Snow in Encounter: “The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution,” June 1959, pp. 17-24 and July 1959, pp. 22-27; “The ‘Two-Cultures’ Controversy: Afterthoughts,” February 1960, pp. 64-68.
  19. ^ Walter Allen, A. C. B. Lovell, J. H. Plumb, David Riesman, Bertrand Russell, Sir John Cockcroft, and Michael Ayrton, “‘The Two Cultures’: A Discussion of C.P. Snow’s Views,” Encounter, August 1959, pp. 67-73.
  20. ^ Stuart Hampshire in Encounter, 1954-1962, 19 items via Unz.org.
  21. ^ Richard Wollheim in Encounter, 1955-1964, 12 items via Unz.org.
  22. ^ For a superbly entertaining series of essays profiling a number of the prime controversies exercising the leading British historians and philosophers who were among the core contributors toEncounter in these years, see Fly and the Fly-Bottle: Encounters With British Intellectuals (Boston: Atlantic-Little, Brown, 1963) by Ved Mehta, a gifted young Indian-American writer for The New Yorker.
  23. ^ Daniel Bell in Encounter, 1954-1987, 16 items via Unz.org.
  24. ^ Nathan Glazer in Encounter, 1953-1981, 6 items via Unz.org.
  25. ^ Sidney Hook in Encounter, 1957-1989, 30 items via Unz.org
  26. ^ Dwight Macdonald in Encounter, 1955-1962, 17 items via Unz.org.
  27. ^ Dwight Macdonald, Discriminations: Essays & Afterthoughts, Da Capo, 1974, p. 90.
  28. ^ Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. in Encounter, 1953-1983, 12 items via Unz.org.
  29. ^ John Kenneth Galbraith in Encounter, 1953-1978, 6 items via Unz.org.
  30. ^ C. A. R. Crosland in Encounter, 1956-1974, 18 items via Unz.org.
  31. ^ R. H. S. Crossman in Encounter, 1954-1974, 17 items via Unz.org.
  32. ^ David Marquand in Encounter, 1961-1984, 21 items via Unz.org.
  33. ^ Peregrine Worsthorne in Encounter, 1954-1985, 15 items via Unz.org.
  34. ^ Henry Fairlie in Encounter, 1956-1976, 24 items via Unz.org.
  35. ^ Leopold Labedz and Max Hayward, “Writers & the Police,” Encounter January 1966, pp. 84-88; Leopold Labedz, “The Trial in Moscow,” Encounter, April 1966, pp. 82-91.
  36. ^ Josef Brodsky and Others, “Trial of a Young Poet,” Encounter, September 1964, pp. 84-91.
  37. ^ Leopold Labedz, “Kolakowski: On Marxism & Beyond,” Encounter, March 1969, pp. 77-87.
  38. ^ “New Voices in Russian Writing,” Encounter, April 1963, pp. 27-91.
  39. ^ Alexander Solzhenitsyn, “Matryona’s Home,” Encounter, May 1963, pp. 28-45.
  40. ^ Nirad C. Chaudhuri in Encounter, 1954-1985, 8 items via Unz.org.
  41. ^ Maurice Girodias, “The Erotic Society“, Encounter, February 1966, pp. 52-57.
  42. ^ Ernest van den Haag, “Is Pornography a Cause of Crime?”, Encounter, December 1967, pp. 52-55.
  43. ^ George Steiner, “Night Words: High Pornography & Human Privacy“, Encounter, October 1965, pp. 14-18.
  44. ^ Kristol contributed twice to the New York Review, in early 1964. His wife Gertrude Himmelfarb, the distinguished historian of Victorian England, wrote for it five times, ending in 1966; Norman Podhoretz once, in 1965; Podhoretz’s wife Midge Decter three times through 1964. See Jacob Heilbrunn, “Norman’s Conquest: Why Rudy Giuliani loves Norman Podhoretz,” The Washington Monthly, December 2007; Merle Miller, “Why Norman and Jason Aren’t Talking,” The New York Times Magazine, March 26, 1972.
  45. ^ Franklin Foer, “But Is It Art Criticism?: The Stalinist aesthetics of the Weekly Standard,” Slate, June 29, 1997.
  46. ^ Sidney Hook, “The Prospects of Academe: Letter from New York“, Encounter, August 1968, pp. 60-65; Robert Nisbet, “Who Killed the Student Revolution?“, Encounter, February 1970, pp. 10-18.
  47. ^ Irving Howe, “Zola: The Genius of ‘Germinal’“, Encounter, April 1970, pp. 53-60.
  48. ^ See Stephen Miller, “A Stalinist in America“, Encounter, March 1976, p. 61.
  49. ^ Andrew Shonfield, “Can Capitalism Survive till 1999?“, Encounter, January 1977, pp. 10-17.
  50. ^ Kenneth Minogue, “Galbraith’s Wit & Unwisdom: Ordeal by Caricature,” Encounter, December 1977, pp. 14-18.
  51. ^ John Kenneth Galbraith and Kenneth Minogue, “Galbraith on Minogue: And Vice Versa“, Encounter, April 1978, pp. 87-88.
  52. ^ F.A. Hayek, “The Miscarriage of the Democratic Ideal,” Encounter, March 1978, pp. 14-16.
  53. ^ F. A. Hayek, “Remembering My Cousin, Ludwig Wittgenstein,” Encounter, August 1977, pp. 20-22.
  54. ^ Shirley Robin Letwin, “Taking the Law Unseriously: Dworkin’s Rights and Wrongs”, Encounter, October 1977, pp. 76-81
  55. ^ Roger Scruton in Encounter, 1972-1987, 9 items via Unz.org.
  56. ^ E.J. Mishan in Encounter, 1969-1988, 13 items via Unz.org.
  57. ^ P. T. Bauer in Encounter 1974-1988, 7 items via Unz.org.
  58. ^ George Urban, “From Containment to…Self-Containment: A Conversation with George F. Kennan“, Encounter, September 1976, pp. 10-43; George F. Kennan, “Mr. X Reconsiders: A Current Assessment of Soviet-American Relations“, Encounter, March 1978, pp. 7-12; “A Last Warning: Reply to My Critics“, Encounter, July 1978, pp. 15-18.
  59. ^ Hugh Seton-Watson, “George Kennan’s Illusions: A Reply“, Encounter, November 1976, pp. 24-35.
  60. ^ Richard Pipes, “Mr X. Revises: A Reply to George F. Kennan“, Encounter, April 1978, pp. 18-21, and “Richard Pipes Replies“, Encounter, September 1978, p. 35.
  61. ^ Leopold Labedz, “The Two Minds of George Kennan: How To Un-Learn from Experience“, Encounter, April 1978, pp. 78-85, and “A Last Critique: On Kennan’s Warnings“, Encounter, September 1978, pp. 32-34.
  62. ^ “The Life & Death of Arthur Koestler”, special sections in EncounterJuly 1983 and September/October 1983.
  63. ^ Raymond Aron, “The Stroke: A Memoir before the End“, Encounter, February 1984, pp. 9-11; Francois Bondy, “Raymond Aron“, Encounter, February 1984, pp. 21-24; Melvin J. Lasky, “Death of a Giant“, Encounter, February 1984, pp. 75-77.
  64. ^ Sidney Hook, “Bertrand Russell: A Portrait from Memory“, Encounter’, March 1984, pp. 9-20.
  65. ^ Alun Chalfont, “Arguing About War & Peace: Thompson’s ‘Ban-the-Bomb’ Army“, Encounter, January 1981, pp. 79-87; “The Great Unilateralist Illusion: ‘Ignorance is Strength‘”, Encounter, April 1983, pp. pp. 18-38; “The ‘Star Wars’ Scenario: New Problems of Emergent Technology“, Encounter, September 1984, pp. 52-58.
  66. ^ John Berryman, “Spender: The Poet as Critic“, The New Republic, June 29, 1963.
  67. ^ Quoted in the entry for “Best Magazine” in Bruce Felton and Mark Fowler, Felton & Fowler’s Best, Worst and Most Unusual, Crowell, 1975, republished as the first half of The Best, Worst and Most Unusual, Galahad Books, 1994, p. 82.
  68. ^ Both quotes appeared in advertisements for Encounter run in numerous English periodicals of the time, e.g., in the Ecologist for May/June 1978, p. 90.
  69. ^ Franklin Foer, “Ideas Rule the World“, The New Republic, March 17, 2011.

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