Philip Rahv Irving Howe - Essay

Irving Howe

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Though he wrote mostly about literature, and often surpassingly well, Rahv's criticism can't be understood apart from a fancied relation (mostly in his head) to some ideal Marxist text. Sometimes this stood as a relation of mimesis, sometimes parody, most often allegory. His essays moved along a double track. On one track he could faithfully follow the work being examined—an obligation he took with great seriousness—while on the other he might also trace out the half-blurred footprints of Marxism. Just as some of the New Critics seem in retrospect to have been ministers manqué, their rhetoric soaring to a preacher's climax while their matter failed to keep pace, so Rahv wrote with the pleased stateliness of the...

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