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Irving Howe and the Critics Celebrations and Attacks by John Rodden

Irving Howe and the Critics Celebrations and Attacks


Irving Howe and the Critics Celebrations and Attacks by John Rodden

Irving Howe and the Critics is a selection of essays and reviews about the work of Irving Howe (1920-93), a vocal radical humanist and the most influential American socialist intellectual of his generation. Howe authored eighteen books, edited twenty-five more, wrote dozens of articles and reviews, and edited the magazine Dissent for forty years after founding it. His writings cover subjects ranging from U.S. labor to the vicissitudes of American communism and socialism to Yiddishkeit and contemporary politics. His book World of Our Fathers: The Journey of the East European Jews to America and the Life They Found and Made received the National Book Award for Nonfiction. John Rodden has chosen essays and reviews that focus on Howe's major works and on the disputes they generated. He features both Dissent contributors and those who have dissented from the Dissenters-on the Right as well as the Left. Rodden includes a few stern assessments of Howe from his less sympathetic critics, testifying not only to the range of response-from admiration to hostility-that his work received but also to his stature on the Left as a prime intellectual target of neoconservative fire.


Through his appreciations of Yiddish, Faulkner, Thomas Hardy, Jewish immigration, the Holocaust, socialism, and European letters, Irving Howe sought to elucidate the ways in which fiction surveyed the ideological tides of the 20th century. John Rodden applies his proven skills as editor and scholar of George Orwell and Lionel Trilling to measure his reach. -Ilan Stavans, author of On Borrowed Words and editor of The Schocken Book of Modern Sephardic Literature -- Ilan Stavans John Rodden shows that Irving Howe 'disturbed
American political discourse and letters in the last, foul century by making public discussion more humane. He refused to let readers, listeners, and, yes, followers rush into unthinking

or withdraw into self

-cultivation. Rodden strikes that civic-republican balance in ways I think Howe would have admired. -Jim Sleeper, author of The Closest of Strangers and Liberal Racism -- Jim Sleeper A splendid and rich collection of arguments and counter-arguments that teaches us a great deal not only about Irving Howe, but about American politics and culture in the 20th Century and about what we can rightly call 'The Age of the Intellectual.
Rodden has done a masterful and forthright job of assembling a varied group of polemics that assess Howe

's intellectual prowess, his moral strength, and his occasional lapses. But more importantly, in doing so, he sheds fresh light on problems that, in an age in which events have once again raised pressing questions about the intellectual's relationship to the state, are as germane as they were during the 1930s. -Michael Tomasky, editor of the American Prospect -- Michael Tomasky Tutored by the Old Left of the '30s, Irving Howe became the great educator of the New Left of the '60s, and John Rodden's valuable anthology shows his proteges carrying out their mentor's dedication to the integrity of intellect as a preface to politics. -John Diggins, Distinguished Professor of History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and the author of The Rise and Fall of the American Left -- John Diggins'

About the Author

John Rodden is the author of Performing the Literary Interview: How Writers Craft Their Public Selves and Lionel Trilling and the Critics: Opposing Selves, both published by the University of Nebraska Press, among other books.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st May 2008


John Rodden

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University of Nebraska Press


237 pages


Social & political philosophy
Literary studies: from c 1900 -



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