Heywood Broun Criticism - Essay

Carl Van Doren (review date 1922)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Pieces of Hate, in The Nation, New York, Vol. 115, No. 2988, October 11, 1922, p. 377.

[In the following review, Van Doren admires Broun's Pieces of Hate.]

To characterize Heywood Broun's Pieces of Hate I quote a sentence from his essay on George Jean Nathan: “A man may remain pretty much to himself as long as he chooses to keep his touch light and avoid research.” These two things Mr. Broun does in a manner which I find always entertaining no matter how much I may disagree with him as regards particular verdicts. He is himself on every occasion, with an instinct for being cool when he is most personal which proves that he takes his ground without self-consciousness or effort. He has a large gusto for books, for sport, for intelligence, for fun, for human decency, without hard creeds about any of them. He has the courage of his gusto and knows how to write in the easy tone of speech—sometimes rather profoundly, often rather trivially, more often very acutely, and never uninterestingly.

H. L. Mencken (review date 1931)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Christians Only, in The American Mercury, Vol. XXIII, No. 89, May, 1931, pp. 123-26.

[In the following review of Christians Only, Mencken considers anti-Semitism and ethnic prejudice in 1930s America.]

What part [coauthor George] Britt had in the confection of this book [Christians Only] I can't make out. He appears on the title page as the collaborator of the Hon. Mr. Broun, but throughout the text the latter speaks in the first person, and much of the matter presented is derived from his personal experiences. Can it be that, in his old age, Broun is turning illiterate, and so, like Henry Ford, needs a ghost-writer? If so, the...

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Ralph D. Casey (review date 1936)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of It Seems to Me: 1925-1935, in Journalism Quarterly, Vol. XIII, No. 1, March, 1936, pp. 109-10.

[In the following review, Casey favorably assesses the socially conscious essays of It Seems to Me.]

Broun's liberal outlook pervades this collection of his column “pieces” [It Seems To Me], revealing the World-Telegram commentator preoccupied with social questions. He is quick to side with the under-dog when economic struggle breaks loose, as everybody knows. A long way has been traversed by the columnist since his virtuosity charmed the sports fans and there is an essential note of seriousness in his present-day work, but it has the defect of avoiding the hard and precise reasoning that might be expected of a theorist on social questions, or even of an observer of compelling events. Rarely is he guilty of clichés as a literary craftsman, but his economics is often bromidic. He levels his shafts at the heart, not the head.

Nevertheless, it is refreshing to read a columnist who keeps up a running fight and who is not afraid to exchange punches with his publishers on occasion. He is disdainful of Mr. Hearst, takes more than a single poke at Walter Lippmann, and unmercifully satirizes Mark Sullivan (see “The Tribune's Goblin Editor”). On the other hand, there is warm affection in his sketch of Bolitho.

A bit of prophetic vision is revealed in his “good-by” to Al Smith, whom he dismissed in his column more than two years ago with the comment: “From his office window Al can nod to any passing plane, but the noises of the street, the words of the people and even their cries come faintly to his casement.”

The volume contains some of the best-known essays, including the celebrated “Sacco and Vanzetti” and “The Piece That Got Me Fired” (The Nation, May 4, 1928), but to this reviewer “Harvard Indifference,” written last spring, is one of the most effective bits of real editorial writing in the entire collection.

Bruce Minton and John Stuart (essay date 1937)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Heywood Broun: It Seemed to Him,” in Men Who Lead Labor, Modern Age Books, Inc., 1937, pp. 115-42.

[In the following essay, Minton and Stuart discuss Broun's efforts as a leader of the progressive labor movement in the United States.]

The publishers greeted the formation of the American Newspaper Guild with sad shakes of their heads, predicting that newswriters could never successfully be organized. As Roy Howard, president of the Scripps-Howard chain of newspapers, complained to his employee, Heywood Broun, “You're doing a very silly and evil thing in trying to get reporters into a union. That would rob them of their initiative and take the romance and...

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J. L. O'Sullivan (review date 1941)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Collected Edition of Heywood Broun, in Journalism Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 2, June, 1941, pp. 205-06.

[In the following review, O'Sullivan praises the Collected Edition of Heywood Broun.]

That all is grist that comes to the journalist's mill was never better demonstrated than in the collected works of Heywood Broun. Early in his career the output dealt largely with objective reporting of sports, the theater, and the first World War. In his maturity, subjects were found in the important political and social questions of the day—politics, Facism and Nazism, democracy, education, labor and a hundred other topics dealing with world...

(The entire section is 532 words.)

Joseph J. McGowan (review date 1941)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Collected Edition of Heywood Broun, in Thought, Vol. XVI, No. 63, December, 1941, pp. 765-66.

[In the following review, McGowan comments on Broun's perspicacity and spirituality.]

Collected Edition of Heywood Broun, in general terms, may be called a diary: his diary and a diary of public events interesting to a columnist. The autobiographical throb beats strongly in every one of the essay-like sections. Small effort and one can hear Broun telling what he has to say, see him changing under various moods. What he had to say may not be too profound; yet as a member of the human race (though always a troubadour in spirit), Broun was dead in earnest living the character of a man. A ring of eyes ran around his head: he saw everything far and near, artists, authors, collegemen, sports, politicians, laborers, judges, leaders of nations, family life and especially life in the Broun family. While his eyes scanned the world for human happenings he had for each object and person whom he observed a heart always nicely tempered in its movements, and ever retaining a human fondness even for those whom he justly had to oppose and condemn. With his opinions one may not agree, but all will find the company of Brown a real pleasure.

Strange as it may sound, Broun's communistic leanings were his steps towards the Catholic conceptions of the brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God. Broun's background was spiritual and scriptural: his spirit kept its directness and simplicity. He felt the urge to make the world into one large family bound by cords of justice and charity. After he had supported these finer feelings of his life upon the communion of the Catholic body, he said: “Things which once were a sort of sentimental solace are now realities.” There in the fold of the Church he found himself identified with every living man in the world as brother, brother in the common clay or Brother in the One Holy Spirit which encompasses us all.

Bennett Cerf (essay date 1942)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Heywood Broun,” in The Saturday Review Gallery, edited by Jerome Beatty, Jr. and others, Simon and Schuster, 1959, pp. 308-13.

[In the following essay, originally published in 1942, Cerf presents a number of anecdotes from Broun's life and career as a journalist.]

Heywood Broun has been dead now for three full years. The multitude of friends who loved and admired him from the bottom of their hearts find it hard to believe that it's as long as that since they saw him shambling into his favorite haunts, sloppily attired, tardy for appointments, but welcomed with shouts of joy wherever he appeared. His name bobs up in conversations as frequently as though he...

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Frank Scully (essay date 1943)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Broun,” in Rogues' Gallery: Profiles of My Eminent Contemporaries, Murray & Gee, Inc., 1943, pp. 125-34.

[In the following essay, Scully offers an anecdotal remembrance of Broun.]

The last thing I saw Heywood Broun do, was at a dinner in his honor in Los Angeles in the summer of 1939. More than five hundred persons attended—including a mayor called Fletcher Bowron, who said he used to be a newspaper man, himself.

Broun was talking about the American Newspaper Guild, which he founded; in connection with it, he was telling of Upton Sinclair's Brass Check—an indictment of journalism and, in Broun's opinion, true during the...

(The entire section is 2223 words.)

Morris L. Ernst (essay date 1945)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Heywood Broun,” in The Best Is Yet …, Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1945, pp. 77-82.

[In the following essay, Ernst recalls his friendship with Broun.]

This evening I heard Quentin Reynolds do his great GI Joe broadcast after the landing in France. Margaret said Quent learned much from Heywood Broun. And Quent would be the first to admit it. Quent didn't know him many years but he knew what Heywood Broun was about. Heywood had few friends and Quent was one of them.

At high school, more than forty years ago, Heywood and I first met. We were bound together then through Heywood's aunt, Belle Baker, my English instructor and one of my...

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Dale Kramer (essay date 1949)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “A Columnist Is Born,” in Heywood Broun: A Biographical Portrait, Current Books, Inc., 1949, pp. 91-102.

[In the following excerpt from his biography of Broun, Kramer recounts the development of Broun's career as a newspaper columnist.]

One day in the spring of 1919 Broun was dawdling about the high-ceilinged living room of his old-fashioned apartment at Seventh Avenue and 55th Street. Even the fact that Rudyard Kipling had once dwelt in the same rooms was no boon to inspiration. Neither for the moment was a small Shetland terrier named Michael, who was, as usual, angry about something.

Finally Broun sat down, rolled a sheet of copy paper...

(The entire section is 3304 words.)