Christopher Lasch Criticism - Essay

Joseph Voelker (review date Spring 1986)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Minimal Self, in Southwestern Humanities Review, Spring, 1986, pp. 181-83.

[In the following review, Voelker compares the themes of The Minimal Self to those of The Culture of Narcissism, concluding that, while The Minimal Self "seems guilty of the same cultural shallowness it sees around it," the book has "occasional sharp observations."]

There is something meretricious in the title to Christopher Lasch's sequel to his often precise and powerful The Culture of Narcissism. A reader unacquainted with Lasch's work who comes across a book sub-titled "Psychic Survival in Troubled Times" is likely to mistake it for...

(The entire section is 1122 words.)

Godfrey Hodgson (review date 27 January 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Liberalism Takes a Licking," in Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 27, 1991, pp. 2, 11.

[In the highly positive review of The True and Only Heaven below, Hodgson discusses the book's critique of the ideology of progress and some strategies used by Lasch.]

From the New Deal until the 1970s, liberalism in all its variants was the public philosophy of the United States. And what brought together a whole coalition of interests, classes and temperaments under the banners of liberalism was a shared belief in the idea, indeed the ideology of progress.

Since the 1970s, with bewildering speed, liberalism has been rudely unseated from that...

(The entire section is 1272 words.)

Louis Menand (review date 11 April 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Man of the People," in The New York Review of Books, Vol. XXXVIII, April, 11, 1991, pp. 39-44.

[In the following review, Menand surveys Lasch's critique of liberalism throughout his works, including The True and Only Heaven, and concludes that Lasch's insightful but sometimes limited cultural criticism neglects the influence of both literature and "the political doctrine of rights" on twentieth-century society.]

Christopher Lasch began his career as a historian and critic of American liberalism. His analysis of liberalism led him to an analysis of some of the alternatives to liberalism in American political thought and, eventually, to a long excursion...

(The entire section is 7810 words.)

Steven Watts (review date Fall 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Critic: Christopher Lasch's Struggle with Progressive America," in American Studies, Vol. 33, No. 2, Fall, 1992, pp. 113-20.

[In the review below, Watts summarizes the themes of and the critical responses to Lasch's works from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, offering a general assessment of the weaknesses and strengths of his arguments.]

In the volatile cultural politics of late twentieth-century America, the only thing worse than an opponent is a traitor. In many ways, Christopher Lasch has acquired precisely that image. He began his career as a radical historian in the 1960s—one of his essays, for instance, appeared...

(The entire section is 3472 words.)

Jeffrey Isaac and Christopher Lasch (essay date Winter 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Modernity and Progress: An Exchange," in Salmagundi, Vol. 9, No. 3, Winter, 1992, pp. 82-116.

[Below, each writer separately explains the themes of The True and Only Heaven. In the first essay Isaac offers a point-by-point analysis of Lasch's social criticism in his book, concentrating on what he perceives as omissions and dismissals in Lasch's otherwise astute observations. In the second essay Lasch responds to specific criticisms of his book made by several reviewers, focusing especially on those by Isaac about Lasch's treatment of "the problem of democracy."]

I. On Christopher Lasch

Both the facts...

(The entire section is 10707 words.)

Robert B. Westbrook (essay date March 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Christopher Lasch, The New Radicalism, and the Vocation of Intellectuals," in Reviews in American History, Vol. 23, No. 1, March, 1995, pp. 176-91.

[In the essay below, Westbrook examines the influence of The New Radicalism in America on the American intellectual community.]

The New Radicalism is really a brilliant book, a book of such importance that people will be talking about it as long as they are talking about 20th Century history. It is an unconventional book, because it is based not on massing evidence but on thinking about history, an endeavor that has largely gone out of fashion.


(The entire section is 6478 words.)

Jean Bethke Elshtain (essay date Spring-Summer 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Life and Work of Christopher Lasch: An American Story," in Salmagundi, Nos. 106-107, Spring-Summer, 1995, pp. 146-61.

[Below, Elshtain, a personal friend of Lasch, relates Lasch's thought to his character, reminiscing about and illuminating Lasch's observations of contemporary American life.]

Christopher Lasch was my friend. That means I called him "Kit." When he died on Valentine's Day, 1994, the loss was a personal one enveloped by a patina of public concern. Who, I fretted sadly, will take his place? I found it hard to imagine a world without Kit's voice, a very particular voice, quintessentially American, rooted in the soil of this strange and...

(The entire section is 6345 words.)