A Partisan View (Magill's Literary Annual 1985)
Interest in the New York intellectuals of the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s has steadily increased in recent years, as surviving members take the occasion of their advancing age and, one presumes, increased leisure to produce memoirs and autobiographies in which they claim to set the record straight, defend themselves and their friends from the unwarranted vilifications of rivals, and wearily reflect on the spiritual debasement into which their heirs on the contemporary scene have fallen. The tone of these memoirs generally is elegiac, occasionally, as with Norman Podhoretz, combative and hectoring, less often, though Irving Howe is a notable exception, hopeful. None is likely to make its way into the canon of classic autobiographies. Even now, the interest generated by these works is largely confined to the participants themselves, that surviving stratum of the New York literary world that has not been completely submerged in the profit and loss sheets of multinational corporations, and scholars whose research on these figures demands that their memoirs be digested thoroughly and, one hopes, critically. The constant temptation when reading their work and writing about it is to value their place and importance in shaping the cultural environment of the United States as highly as they do themselves.
Reading William Phillips’ recent collection of reminiscences gives one the sense of a man at the center of things intellectual. Phillips was among the...
(The entire section is 2220 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1985)
Best Sellers. XLIII, March, 1984, p. 450.
Booklist. LXXX, January 1, 1984, p. 651.
Choice. XXI, May, 1984, p. 1308.
Christian Science Monitor. LXXVI, March 29, 1984, p. 20.
Kirkus Reviews. LI, December 1, 1983, p. 1248.
Library Journal. CIX, January, 1984, p. 92.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. February 12, 1984, p. 8.
National Review. XXXVI, March 23, 1984, p. 40.
New Leader. LXVI, December 12, 1983, p. 5.
The New Republic. CXC, February 6, 1984, p. 30.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXIX, January 8, 1984, p. 28.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXIV, November 25, 1983, p. 56.
(The entire section is 66 words.)