Dancing in the Dark (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Born in 1940, Morris Dickstein, distinguished professor of English at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, remembers his steady-working, first-generation immigrant father recalling that, every Friday during the Great Depression, when he picked up his paycheck he looked for the pink slip telling him he was laid off. “The Depression put a strain on families, undermining the breadwinner and placing more pressure on the wife to bring in money and hold the family together,” Dickstein writes in the preface to Dancing in the Dark while quoting critic Alfred Kazin: “No one who grew up in the Depression ever recovered from it.”
What he did for the turbulent 1960’s thirty-two years earlier in Gates of Eden (1977), Dickstein does in this book for the 1930’s; that is, he writes a high-minded survey of the decade’s cultural history. “Culture” is an eclectic term, though, perhaps best defined as the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted in evolved forms from one generation to another. One thus might wish for a more wide-ranging coverage than Dickstein provides. Such coverage would include, besides fluent exegeses of novels as well-known as John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and little-known as Henry Roth’s Call It Sleep (1934), ordinary things that people did such as listen to radio programs featuring the Shadow; order sodas at drugstore...
(The entire section is 1278 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Booklist 105, no. 22 (August 1, 2009): 24.
Commonweal 136, no. 19 (November 6, 2009): 38-40.
Harper’s Magazine 319, no. 1914 (November, 2009): 71-76.
Kirkus Reviews 77, no. 13 (July 1, 2009): 694-695.
Library Journal 134, no. 20 (December 15, 2009): 117.
The New Republic 240, no. 22 (December 2, 2009): 44-47.
The New York Review of Books 56, no. 19 (December 3, 2009): 30-32.
The New York Times, September 16, 2009, p. 4.
The New York Times Book Review, September 27, 2009, p. 17.
The New Yorker 85, no. 29 (September 21, 2009): 90-94.
Publishers Weekly 256, no. 28 (July 13, 2009): 49.
The Spectator 311, no. 9458 (December 5, 2009): 49-50.
Times Higher Education, December 10, 2009, p. 52.
The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2009, p. A19.
(The entire section is 78 words.)