An American Procession
In 1983, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich reissued Alfred Kazin’s first book, On Native Grounds, in a fortieth anniversary edition, an event that went virtually unnoticed save at Hilton Kramer’s The New Criterion, where the knives were being sharpened in the wake of Kazin’s observations, in The New York Review of Books (“Saving My Soul at the Plaza”) in March, on the Committee for the Free World’s conference on “our country and our culture” at the Plaza. Kazin’s strictures on that conference — on the callowness of its prevailing attitudes and its shrillness of tone — earned him a rebuke by The New Criterion: a reconsideration of On Native Grounds by Kenneth Lynn, who took it to task for its errors of fact (the Manhattan-bound Kazin had thought, as a young man, that there were mountains in Hemingway’s northern Michigan) and for its unbridled leftism. Written in the dog days of the depression, On Native Grounds was, it seems, unaccountably sour on the prospects for American society and irresponsibly “radical” in its scorn for American business.
KeywordsDepression Radar Brittle Metaphor Dick
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