By Irving Howe, Nina Howe, Morris Dickstein
A Voice nonetheless Heard is key to the knowledge of the passionate and skeptical spirit of this lucid author. The booklet varieties a bridge among the 2 parallel businesses of tradition and politics. It exhibits how politics justifies itself by way of tradition, and the way the latter activates the previous. Howe’s voice is ever sharp, relentless, usually scathingly humorous, revealing Howe as that rarest of critics—a actual reader and author, one whose readability of fashion is as a result his disciplined and candid mind.
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Additional resources for A Voice Still Heard: Selected Essays of Irving Howe
One likes to speculate: suppose Simone de Beauvoir and Bertrand Russell didn’t exist; would not many of the political writers for Commentary and the New Leader have to invent them? It is all very well, and even necessary, to demonstrate that Russell’s description of America as subject to “a reign of terror” is malicious and ignorant, or that Beauvoir’s picture of America is a blend of Stalinist clichés and second-rate literary fantasies; but this hardly disposes of the problem of civil liberties or of the justiﬁed alarm many sober European intellectuals feel with regard to America.
Somehow, the major capitalist power in the world would evade the troubles afﬂicting capitalism as a world economy. The two central policies of the New Deal, social legislation and state intervention in economic life, were not unrelated, but they were separable as to time; in Europe they had not always appeared together. Here, in America, it was the simultaneous introduction of these two policies that aroused the enthusiasm, as it dulled the criticism, of the intellectuals. Had the drive toward bureaucratic state regulation of a capitalist economy appeared by itself, so that one could see the state becoming a major buyer and hence indirect controller of industry, and industries on the verge of collapse being systematically subsidized by the state, and the whole of economic life being rationalized according to the long-run needs, if this age of conformity 5 not the immediate tastes, of corporate economy—had all this appeared in isolation, the intellectuals would have reacted critically, they would have recognized the trend toward “state capitalism” as the danger it was.
Literary standards are now in academic hands; for the freelance man of letters, who once supplemented and corrected the don, is fast disappearing from the literary scene. . The pedant is as common as he ever was. And now that willy-nilly so much writing about literature is in academic hands, his activities are more dangerous than ever. But he has changed his habits. Twenty years ago he was to be heard asserting that his business was with hard facts, that questions of value and technique were not his affair, and that criticism could therefore be left to the impressionistic journalist.