A Time of Transition.
The 1930s were a time of great ferment in American letters. In a period of social crisis American writers, including Theodore Dreiser and Erskine Caldwell, debated how best to create social change through literature, and critics such as Edmund Wilson and Philip Rahv argued about where on the political Left they should position themselves. Literary journalists, including Martha Gellhorn and Josephine Herbst, documented the suffering of the American people. Not all writers, of course, produced what became known as proletarian fiction. Tough-guy writers provided a nihilistic view of a country gone awry, while modernists provided intimate portraits of the American self.
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