Lenny Bruce

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Michael Murray

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Probably too much has been and will be made of Lenny Bruce. For all his passion for truth, his vision was one-dimensional and circumscribed by the world of strip-joints, jazz, narcotics and obsessive sex in which he lived. There is a primitive honesty in this world, perhaps, but he was mistaken to believe that it represents the "truth," a basic heritage that we are all afraid to face. In his last years, his satire, when it was not a tantrum of abuse, was often a self-righteous lecture. His defenders who compare him now to Swift are overstating the case considerably: granting that "Lenny was his own act," in Nat Hentoff's phrase, and that he cannot be fairly recaptured in transcripts, imitations or even recordings, his body of work, by any definition, was pathetically slim. (p. 214)

Michael Murray, "Media: Wilbur Mills and Lenny Bruce," in Commonweal (copyright © 1974 Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.; reprinted by permission of Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.), Vol. CI, No. 8, November 29, 1974, pp. 213-14.∗

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