By Irving Howe, Nina Howe, Morris Dickstein
guy of letters, political critic, public highbrow, Irving Howe was once considered one of America’s so much exemplary and embattled writers. seeing that his loss of life in 1993 at age seventy two, Howe’s paintings and his own instance of dedication to excessive precept, either literary and political, have had a full of life afterlife. This posthumous and capacious assortment contains twenty-six essays that initially seemed in such guides as the ny Review of Books, the New Republic, and the Nation. Taken jointly, they show the intensity and breadth of Howe’s enthusiasms and diversity over politics, literature, Judaism, and the tumults of yankee society.
A Voice nonetheless Heard is vital to the knowledge of the passionate and skeptical spirit of this lucid author. The publication kinds a bridge among the 2 parallel agencies of tradition and politics. It exhibits how politics justifies itself through tradition, and the way the latter activates the previous. Howe’s voice is ever sharp, relentless, usually scathingly humorous, revealing Howe as that rarest of critics—a actual reader and author, one whose readability of favor is as a result of his disciplined and candid mind.
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Extra resources for A Voice Still Heard: Selected Essays of Irving Howe
It needs them for their knowledge, their talent, their inclinations and passions; it insists that they retain a measure of these endowments, which it means to employ for its own ends, and without which the intellectuals would be of no use to it whatever. A simpliﬁed but useful equation suggests itself: the relation of the institutional world to the intellectuals is like the relation of middlebrow culture to serious culture. The one battens on the other, absorbs and raids it with increasing frequency and skill, this age of conformity 9 subsidizes and encourages it enough to make further raids possible—at times the parasite will support its victim.
Thus, in the early years of a magazine like Partisan Review—roughly between 1936 and 1941—these two radical impulses came together in an uneasy but fruitful union; and it was in those years that the magazine seemed most exciting and vital as a link between art and experience, between the critical consciousness and the political conscience, between the avant-garde of letters and the independent left of politics. That union has since been dissolved, and there is no likelihood that it will soon be re-established.
And the price they pay for this rise in social status is to be measured in more than an increase in rent. It is not my purpose to berate anyone, for the pressures of conformism are at work upon all of us, to say nothing of the need to earn one’s bread; and all of us bend under the terrible weight of our time—though some take pleasure in learning to enjoy it. Nor do I wish to indulge in the sort of good-natured condescension with which Malcolm Cowley recently described the younger writers as lugubrious and timid longhairs huddling in chill academies and poring over the gnostic texts of Henry James—by contrast, no doubt, to Cowley’s own career of risk-taking.