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A Voice Still Heard: Selected Essays of Irving Howe by Irving Howe, Nina Howe, Morris Dickstein

By Irving Howe, Nina Howe, Morris Dickstein

Man of letters, political critic, public highbrow, Irving Howe was once one among America’s so much exemplary and embattled writers. given that his dying 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 energetic afterlife. This posthumous and capacious assortment contains twenty-six essays that initially seemed in such guides as the big apple Review of Books, the New Republic, and the Nation. Taken jointly, they exhibit 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 certainty of the passionate and skeptical spirit of this lucid author. The ebook kinds a bridge among the 2 parallel firms of tradition and politics. It indicates how politics justifies itself by way of 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 genuine reader and author, one whose readability of fashion is end result of the his disciplined and candid mind.

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The liberal-radical claim is merely that the development of technology has now made possible—possible, not inevitable—a solution of those material problems that have burdened mankind for centuries. These problems solved, man is then on his own, to make of his self and his world what he can. The literary prestige of Original Sin cannot be understood without reference to the current cultural situation; it cannot be understood except as a historical phenomenon reflecting, like the whole turn to religion and religiosity, the weariness of intellectuals in an age of defeat and their yearning to remove themselves from the bloodied arena of historical action and choice, which necessarily means, of secular action and choice.

In the 1930s many of those who hovered about the New Masses were mere camp followers of success; but the conformism of the party-line intellectual, at least before 1936, did sometimes bring him into conflict with established power: he had to risk something. Now, by contrast, established power and the dominant intellectual tendencies have come together in a harmony such as this country has not seen since the Gilded Age; and this, of course, makes the temptations of conformism all the more acute. The carrots, for once, are real.

Daniel Boorstin—he cannot be charged with the self-deceptions peculiar to idealism— discovers that “the genius of American politics” consists not in the universal possibilities of democracy but in a uniquely fortunate geography which, obviously, cannot be exported. David Riesman is so disturbed by Veblen’s rebelliousness toward American society that he explains it as a projection of father-hatred; and what complex is it, one wonders, which explains a writer’s assumption that Veblen’s view of America is so inconceivable as to require a home-brewed psychoanalysis?

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