Back to the Trouble with Thomas Mann- Harold Rosenberg on Myth and History.

Part I. vol.6, No. 2 Winter, 1939.


Harold Rosenberg is credited with inventing the term “action painting” in 1952 to describe a central strand of abstract expressionist painting from the late 1940s through the 1960s. He was an advocate of the work of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and others, and this painting above was made by the artist, Elaine de Kooning, Willem’s wife and an active member of the “New York School” of art. Among art critics and practitioners he is also known for a protracted debate with Clement Greenberg about the meaning of modern art within progressive theories of art.

Rosenberg was born in 1906 and went to the City College of New York. He did a law degree but moved to writing soon after. He wasn’t in the CPUSA and though he wrote for the New Masses  and the earlier Partisan Review — when it ran under the auspices of the CPUSA through the John Reed Clubs — Rosenberg moved to the left with the anti-Stalinist Marxists.  After WWII, he lost much of his interest in revolutionary politics, and it is his writing in the 1940s and 1950s that secured his place as a central interpreter and writer of Abstract Expressionism. He later became the much admired art critic for the New Yorker

For those of you who have been following this blog, you will know that Thomas Mann served as a touchstone for thinking and writing about the differences between liberalism and revolutionary socialism. There are a number of essays about Mann in the 1938-1939 issues of Partisan Review. {See blog posts: July 13, 2017; October 14, 2017, November 4, 2017, February 17, 2018 }. The topics engaged by William Phillips, William Troy, James Burnham, were, in addition to the liberalism/revolutionary socialism debate, myth versus reality and science versus art (and its dark sibling, irrationalism).

There is no doubt that Rosenberg was a talented thinker and a keen theorist of cultural practices. In 1940, when Dwight MacDonald, was thinking of leaving Partisan Review and starting a new journal (in fact he stayed on as editor of PR until 1943), he described one potential new partner in the enterprise this way:

“Also, there is Rosenberg, whom even Rhav admits would be an excellent addition as an editor, –he’s extremely brilliant, with original and often profound ideas of his own. Again he is given to positive ideas and wants to try things,do something. And like Clem [Clement Greenberg] , he can write and work hard.” 

In his essay on Mann, Rosenberg has shaped and organised the partial claims and arguments of the earlier essayists in the clump of Mann discussions.  It is clear and logical, and though in places I found it wavering in front of what Coleridge called “my swimming eyes,” that is, soporific, I think it more or less gives an impressive mastery of the issues floating, and sometimes, drowning, in the earlier essays.

Harold Rosenberg, sketch by Saul Steinberg, Amagansett, 1962



Rosenberg begins this, the first polemical article of the volume, by counterpoising Thomas Mann’s ‘sentiment of artistic culture to political utilitarianism.’: “Asserting that culture is menaced by its own action and affirmation.”   Rosenberg sees Mann’s arguments against revolution as being based in communism’s rejection of the individual, while his comfort within liberalism is a result of the importance of the individual to a cultural renaissance. Mann, Rosenberg goes on, sees in art and culture a way of conserving and changing in society.  But this was ‘perverted’ by the Nazis: “The outworn and decadent have been preserved through terror. Politics subjected everything to itself and trampled underfoot and the free human spirit, opposing itself, too, to Christianity upon which, Mann insists, all Western values are based.” Mann’s ideas about this link between socialism and religion, opens a space in which much criticism of Mann by the revolutionary left will increase.

Rosenberg then describes the three principles of Mann’s position:

  1. “That the mass dissemination of revolutionary ideas, regardless of their truth of falsehood, constitutes a ‘lying propaganda’ which must lead to the destruction of industry and individual development.”
  2. “That defeat of the Nazis will be the result of a cultural act of conservation, restoring social equilibrium through the revival of Christianity and individual metaphysics….”
  3. “That the socialist order will be attained through culture itself without the aid of, and even in conflict with, Marxism and the materialist analysis of history”.

From the first principle, we find Mann’s position that revolutionary culture is usually reducible to mass propaganda, as the force within communism that denigrates both individual creation and labour.  The defeat of the Nazis, mobius-twisted, will become the reconstitution of the principle of ‘conservation,’ those traditions through which Christianity and philosophical reflection prosper. And finally that it will put Marxism in the shade.

So, turning for a moment to William Troy’s essay about Mann’s use of Myth. [see this blog, October 14, 2017 “What are we to do about Thomas Mann?”], Rosenberg argues that Troy has missed the point about the materials of Mann’s myth-making, and “It is not in his eternal truths that Mann is a master mythologist, not in his access to a level above time and change,  but in his artistic building with the materials of contemporary belief.”

This engages with the on-going debate within the pages of Partisan Review about the meaning of science in relation to Marxist analysis.  Rosenberg makes the point that when frightened or intellectually suspicious by claims of science, writers have taken a kind of refuge in writing things that “surpass” the limits of science by “the counter-concept of mystery and creation…. its aim is philosophical, not ritualistic.”  Rosenberg substitutes ‘system’ for ‘myth’ and leads him to explicate the sort of work that myth, in his analysis, does.

 “Modern thought poses in a thousand different forms the opposition between science and the irrational – between the known and the living.” Rosenberg defines the distinction between them in art as the antinomies of  “statues, machines, geometrical abstractions, and sex, dreams, biomorphic shapes.” Strangely enough, the distinction between the known and the living operates on analogy with the late 20th century ones of digital/on-off and analogue/more -less.

Next week — April  Ms. Partisan will be in Cromarty, in the North of Scotland, and probably without access to internet. So the week after will be the second part of the Rosenberg essay.  Apologies for the delay.    Annie J.

Adventures of a Young Man. Dos Passos, Again. “Red,White, and Blue Thanksgiving.” vol.6, No.2

First Edition: 1939.

We turn from the immediate crisis in Europe in “This Quarter” to the crisis of the First World War, in a story that is a harbinger of  the present just ahead. Dos Passos’s Adventures of a Young Man was first published in 1939, and the Partisan Review publication,”Red, White, and Blue Thanksgiving,” is a story-length section of that novel.

You may remember from 2 years ago, another story by DosPassos, “The Migratory Worker,” in the January, 1938 issue of PR.{Blog post, Dec17, 2016} It is a naturalist portrait of the fall of a man in Depression America, and it reminds the reader that PR isn’t all theory and cosmopolitan high culture.  Set in Arizona, the narrative is of a young man without many skills, but some experience of the clap, freight train riding, and what he thinks of as ‘easy women.’.  He has been doing unskilled ‘pick and shovel’ work, but a second dose of the clap sends him to buy a ticket to Phoenix where a ‘part-Indian’ doctor is rumoured to provide a cure.  Ike Hall is  strong and confident, eager to learn, and he finds a job which can train him in electrics. He is a member of the IWW, founded in 1905 — The International Workers of the World — an American union, “One Big Union”–, known as the”Wobblies,” and he feels the pride and the power of being in employment. The Wobblies were linked to the politics of socialism and anarcho-syndicalism. Committed to an inclusive membership, it welcomed people of all races, both sexes, and promoted the slogan; “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

While learning the electrical trade, Ike meets Jinny Connor, who is young and pretty and ‘thinks the world of him.’ Her family objects to a marriage between them, which forces the young couple to leave Phoenix, and go to Kansas City.  But Ike’s luck turns, and “The electrical workers local wasn’t taking in any new members on account of the slump and before Ike could say Jack Robinson there he was smashing baggage at the Railway Express and Jinny was counter girl in a one-armed lunch”. 

That story and the one at hand here  belongs  to the genre of ‘proletarian literature,’ which sometimes means literature written by the working class, and sometimes means literature about the working class, written with a pro-socialist or communist politics. It was the stuff of socialist and  CPUSA periodicals from the founding of the CPUSA in 1919, and became an official ‘line’ in Third Period Communism, and through the Popular Front.  The New Masses, one of the most popular of the CPUSA-related periodicals, published many ‘proletarian’ stories and poems. The earlier story’s ‘naturalism’ is not unlike the novels of Theodore Dreiser,in his An American Tragedy, and Sister Carrie, where forces that work within society at large press the hero or heroine into ruin.

The shades of the prison house start closing in around the young couple, they sleep in the cold at night, and “There wasn’t a living soul they could call on for help.”    Ike, in despair, has to sign on for a job that will take them to Oklahoma so he can work in the oilfields.  It means that he has to turn in his “red card,”his IWW membership card, and he becomes what they called a ‘scissorbill,’ a union busting scab.

In the novel, Adventures of a Young Man, a disillusioned young American radical, Glenn Spotswood, fights on the side of the  Second Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War and is killed. The novel is contemporary with Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, with its similar theme. Both books are the outcome of the 1937 visit of Dos Passos and Hemingway to Spain during which their friendship broke up in a sharp quarrel on political as well as personal grounds.  In “Red, White, and Blue Thanksgiving,” which comes from an early part of the novel, Dos Passos uses the end of the First World War as a sign of the kinds of conflict and division it delivered to the Americans who fought in it. Thanksgiving, the only holiday in the USA where you don’t give presents, which makes it, if only slightly, a less money/bling/useless gift day, is the setting here. The food looks glorious and various members of the Spotswood family gather for the Thanksgiving feast. The colours of the flag are motifs of the overabundant decorations of the dining room, and there is a thin string of tension in the pace of the opening portrait of the family rushing to get everything ready for the meal.The War has ended, and news has arrived that the older Spotswood son, Tyler, has been promoted and sent into the post-war Army of Occupation. The father Herbert’s voice arises from the din of cooking and setting the table and putting out the candies:

Dad was in his shirtsleeves, mashing the potatoes, and saying ‘ Ada, he couldn’t help feel bad about the thought of our boy in a uniform strutting about lording it over those poor miserable defeated Germans. “I’m afraid he will never be good for anything again.” Mother was whispering that she could only be  thankful that he was safe.

The father’s words cut straight across the triumphal US celebration. He is thinking of the terrible decisions made in the Treaty of Versailles. And his voice is, most importantly, internationalist. From this point on, the story runs on two tracks: the heaps of food being eaten in the middle of this day of Thanksgiving, and the opening rift between Herbert and his brother,Matthew. The women maintain a feminine distance from the political battle that ensues.

 “Well, now the Huns would get what was coming to them,” Uncle Mat said. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Dad was speaking his carefully pronounced words from the end of the table, when Lorna kicked up a fuss,”etc.  The interruptions of the argument are from the children, self-involved and eliciting distracted or fierce replies from the men in the family. Dad got that cornered look on his face. He took off his glasses and rubbed his grey bulging eyes, and leaned forward across his plate before he spoke. He hoped that those really responsible for the war would pay for it, instead of the poor people of Germany, who were their first victims.

And so it goes — Herbert defending jailed pacifists, Mat calling them traitors. We feel the seams opening around them: the young Glenn trying to do everything right so that the party can go on — feeling protective and annoyed with his father — the various minor disturbances at the table scarring the surface of  false bonhomie.    I hope you will read it yourself, and get the sense of immediacy that permeates the story. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles becomes the starting point for the world of 1939…

first go to:  next: click on year 1939, and follow from there…







Vol. 6, No. 2, Winter 1939– Our Quarter– 2.”Anti-Fascist Jitterbug” 3. “T.S.Eliot’s Last Words” 4. “Hello Reform” 5.”Dictatorship at Cooper Union”

Partisan Review, Vol. 6, No. 2. Winter, 1939

The Summer of regret, nostalgia, fear with and without objects, has turned into a Winter of confusion, anger, and debate. The issue is out in late November, 1938.

Partisan Review Editors in 1939: F.W. Dupee, Dwight Macdonald, George L.K.Morris, William Phillips, Philip Rahv.

back: Morris, Rahv, McDonald, sitting:  Dupee, Phillip

The second part of “Our Quarter” must be by Dwight Macdonald — just his kind of word,  Titled, “Anti-Fascist Jitterbug,” it trounces Lewis  Mumford’s ignorant version of a “man of good will.” It has got that acerbic wit that Macdonald was known for, and he makes a comic hash of Mumford’s irrational idea that there is something about the ‘German Mind’ that has produced fascism….

“Once an anti-fascist is far gone into jitterbuggery, he suffers a total loss of memory. But Mr. Mumford improves upon most of the jitterbugs by raising amnesia to the level of a principle. He is simply oblivious to the fact that besides poets and philosophers of imperialist conquest, German culture also nurtured the socialist humanism of Marx and Engels.”

“Mr. Mumford and his friends cannot assail fascism for what it is but must picture it as something vast and mysteriously irrational, or as the dreadful aberation  of a particular national mentality.  This has become all the more necessary now, as the New Deal government — of which the anti-fascist jitter-bugs are enthusiastic partisans — is scuttling its domestic program of mild social reforms and moving into the war zone”. 

You might want to look back at this blog for September 17, 2017, which is about Meyer Shapiro’s essay on Lewis Mumford.

3.The third contribution to “Our Quarter” is about T.S. Eliot, ‘T.S. Eliot’s Last Words.’ I like  this one in particular,  because it is so stuck in the problem of what do you do with Modernism’s bad attitude. The pith of the squib is that Eliot is a great writer; that Eliot tried to place London on the metropolitan cultural map alongside Berlin, Paris, Madrid; that it didn’t work:  Eliot’s journal, The Criterion, lost its drive as a social crisis emerged….the magazine became eclectic…and Eliot”became more and more  the grave apostle of detachment. In other countries the literary humanists have been forced into exile. [aj: think of  that discussion of Thomas Mann by William Troy and James Burnham earlier in 1938.] In England,if Eliot’s decision is a symptom, they are preparing to retire into voluntary seclusion.”  The problem of the reactionary stance of a significant strand of  modernism, with its conservatism, racism, anti-semitism, and among some, its fascism… is simply presented by the writer as quicksand into which Eliot and others are slipping.

4. “Hello Reform”, the fourth piece in “Our Quarter” is about John Chamberlain, a jobbing reviewer, and a man who began on the left and moved to the right, including but not limited to a strong individualism, along the lines of Ayn Rand, and other libertarian thinkers and writers. His first book,  “Farewell to Reform,” published in 1931, was an analysis of the failure of reformism to challenge fundamentals in American society. He attacked the ‘trust-busting’ of Teddy Roosevelt, the populism of William Jennings Bryan, and the ‘New Freedom’ of Woodrow Wilson;he became a supporter of FDR’s ‘New Deal’ later in the 1930s, and was one of those who organised the campaign to support Trotsky after the Moscow Trials, and contributed to the report written by John Dewey: Not Guilty: the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made Against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials (1938).  He wrote for William Buckley’s National Review later on.  Chamberlain’s impact hasn’t survived into the revivals of either liberalism or parties further to the left. So the energy with which the piece ends, doesn’t possess the driving polemical edge that both Rhav and Macdonald were able to provide when they were seriously provoked.

5.“Dictatorship at Cooper Union” is the last of the short editorial essays. It begins with the state of  this Arts and Sciences college, and its faculty.
“Cooper Union is familiar to most New Yorkers as an antiquated caravanserai on lower Fourth Avenue, huge, dingy, and hideous. Actually it is a large school of Art and Science, handsomely endowed by the Coopers and the Hewitts, which offers completely free tuition to hundreds of acceptable students.” But something wasn’t right with the school. Even though the students were eager to learn and they invited Gropius down from Harvard to lecture and Leger as well, and both men enjoyed teaching the Cooper Union students, the administration and directors of the school couldn’t see the importance of these creative ventures.

After winning a law case against the city of New York, which gave a large new tranch of money to the school, and unfolding a new plan of redecoration, the new Director, Burell, was not convinced of the need to bring the avant garde into the curriculum.

” It is disheartening to come upon the losing battle by the students for the preservation of these courses in modern and abstract painting”

And so, the piece concludes, “And thus ends the history of modern painting at Cooper Union,” another example of the crisis of Western Culture.

“This Quarter”, Vol.6, No.2.. 1. “Crisis in Paris.”

Partisan Review, Vol.6, No.2 Winter, 1939
edith piaf main-m
Edith Piaf, 1939

Paris in 1939


images      Unknown-2

Partisan Review, Vol. 6, No. 2. Winter, 1939

The Summer of regret, nostalgia, fear with and without objects, has turned into a Winter of confusion, anger, and debate. The issue came out in late November, 1938.

The Fall leads into the Winter issue of Partisan Review, and opens with the journal’s  “This Quarter” editorial, the second in a series of five. These editorials were excellent additions to a developing sense of  immediacy in Partisan Review in the Winter issue of Vol.6, No. 2.  Remember that this journal was in some ways quite parochial: written by people in a  defined coterie, at this point more pointedly Trotskyist than other anti- Stalinist publications in the USA, but now, and through 1939, above all, determined to keep a revolutionary internationalist perspective on Europe from the New York telescope.  By making each “This Quarter,” a collage of inter-related but distinct set of editorials, it was able to appeal to different constituencies at home as well.

HerschelHerschel Grynspan.

The first short article. “Crisis in Paris” was probably written close to the time when Herschel Grynspan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew, assassinated a German diplomat, Ernst vom Rath, November 7th, 1938, at the German Embassy in Paris, protesting the expulsion of Jews from Germany. He was immediately arrested by the French Police. He was eventually sent back to Germany, where he was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he is thought to have died  by 1945. It was in retaliation for Grynspan’s act that Kristallnacht/  The Night of Broken Glass riots against Jews took place across Germany the 8 &9th of November, 1938.

Scenes from Kristallnacht — burning building, smashed interior of Berlin Synagogue

kristllnacht  Unknown-1

But the “Crisis in Paris” piece takes as its focus the international meaning of Paris as a symbol of and centre for political, intellectual and cultural life and how Nazism would destroy that image and that reality.

For a century  the history of France was the history of European politics: from the great revolution of 1789 to the 1848 ‘year of revolutions,’ the proto-fascist reaction of ‘Napoleon the Little,’and finally, the Paris Commune of 1871, which sketched out a whole new theory of revolution, to be realised in 1917.” oh dear……first time as tragedy, second time as farce, tenth time as Trump…

“SO, too, in arts and letters. The current of modern art, from Cezanne to Picasso, has been channelled deep in Paris. And it was to Paris, not to Berlin or London or Rome, that our own expatriates of the twenties went to write their novels and publish their independent ‘little’ magazines. In that benign and quickening air, the expression of the best integrated culture of modern times — the avant-garde —   the very term is French — in art and literature has found it least impossible to survive.”

“Now all this is threatened, the eye of Western culture is dimming. For months now, the newspaper correspondents have been filling in, bit by bit, the now sadly familiar image of a nation that is preparing to take leave of democratic government. We know well by now what happens to intellectual life under a totalitarian regime. If France goes fascist, we shall be saying goodbye to Western culture in all seriousness and for a long time to come.

SO, the first part of the piece is a view of what has been, and what may be to come, suffused with both nostalgia and fear, retrospect and the prospect of the death of democracy. But Partisan Review returns to its contemporary world, the politics of Stalinism, and the ‘disastrous’ ‘People’s Front,’ policy which led to the Munich Pact (the agreement between Britain and Germany in 1938, under which Germany was allowed to extend its territory into parts of Czechoslovakia in which German-speaking peoples lived). and the openly reactionary Daladier government. Daladier was also in attendance at the Munich agreement, but fled to North Africa when Paris fell to Hitler in 1940.

“The French masses still have a respite left them — several months, a year, even two, perhaps — in which to set in motion the only kind of anti-fascist struggle that can succeed: a revolutionary struggle against the whole capitalist order. The nucleus of such a movement already exists, in such militant left-wing organisations as the Lutte de Classe, a semi-syndicalist trade union, the Pivert group, which split off last summer from the Socialist Party of France, and the International Workers.[affiliated with the Fourth International.]”  The piece ends by asking readers in the USA to send donations to these parties.





Mary McCarthy, “The People’s Choice.”

Mary McCarthy Mary McCarthy


Mary McCarthy’s rapid fire, “The People’s Choice” is a review of the book scene in late 1938, and she chooses, as her targets, publishers, best-sellers, and the publicity machine during this time of uncertainty.

Taking the Herald-Tribune’s book review of October 23, the week she writes this essay, she lists the top best-sellers:  Marjorie Rawlings, The Yearling; Howard Spring, My Son, My Son; Laura Krey, And Tell of Time.  “Almost all summer and well into the Fall, this fiction triumvirate has been reigning unchallenged as the People’s Choice. And the fact that two of these novels deal with the pre-bellum South, and one with pre-war England would seem offhand to confirm the opinion, held by many superior people who never buy best-sellers, that the America public is finding in its reading matter an escape from contemporary social dilemmas.” So she starts with a crack at the facile and often patronising argument that people read to escape, which is a shallow shadow of Marxist critique.

In its stead, she offers the argument that “In 1938, most ‘people’ taken as a whole are not reading fiction at all. And even that genteel America that feeds on fiction is reading the newspapers, the news magazines, and the non-fiction best-sellers as well…. The romantic novel is not so much an escape for the reader from contemporary realities, as it is an escape for the novelist from competition in realism with the journalist and the photographer.”

McCarthy turns to subject the whole business of publishing and its ‘trends’ to this blunt analysis — in an age before focus groups and Oprah’s global market Book Club: “A trend is more likely to originate in the mind of the publisher than in the heart of the public.”  “Always on the hunt for thought-saving devices,” she points out, a publisher who has had a ‘natural’ hit…” will cap  one 1936 Gone with the Wind with a hundred outsized romances of the Old South.” And the person who buys Laura Krey’s…And Tell of Time, also a novel of the South garners the investment, not only of the reader who reads it in the hope of enjoying as much as they had enjoyed Gone with the Wind. A bit of surplus glamour will already surround the later And tell of time, whose subject matter is life in Reconstruction Texas.  McCarthy ridicules Krey’s novel by showing how, on the one hand, it has dead characters, with deadening personalities, White Southerners. “The most stirring episodes are all concerned with the glorious battle to deprive the Negro of his legal rights, and the indomitable spirit of the Southern Gentlemen who drove the Yankee meddlers and Freedmen’s Bureaus out of the free, white state of Texas.”

‘The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, was another 1938 best-seller. When I was going into either 6th to 7th grade, we read it and loved it. I feel pretty sure that it was on the syllabus from 1939 till at least 1963…and may still be. I remember not liking it for the first pages but getting drawn in, and I mostly remember weeping in the chair in my bedroom when it drew to a close.  McCarthy is quite kind to The Yearling, considering it to be a ‘natural. ‘

“Its setting is Florida in the post-bellum period, but the tropical forest in which it is centered is not truly moored in time or geography; it is the Garden of Eden of a child’s imagination… The twelve-year old hero of the story, inhabits a universe of wonder, in which each fresh sensation is a discovery that must be weighed, examined, and laboriously charted. To her close observation , Miss Rawlings has added a good, simple plot involving a fearful bear who is to be hated and hunted down, and a delightful fawn who is to be loved and finally relinquished. She concludes by noting that in The Yearling, “Pain exists, but there is always an antidote, hardship exists but there is not a hint of misery and squalor.”

The final best-seller in McCarthy’s piece is Howard Spring’s My Son, My Son. She objects here, as she had about ….And tell of Time, that there isn’t enough sex in it to compel a reading. She says that this is not one of those “antimacassar” novels which specialise in opening the cedar chest of the past. It tells the story of two men who each have a son, and they raise the boys in ways that the fathers believe will compensate for the families’ failings in each childhood and youth.

As a result, the son of a novelist who was denied love and affection as a child turns into a cheat and a cad, and finally is hanged for murder. The son of the other father, a man who lacked the courage to join the Irish Rebellion, raises his son to be an “Irish Rebel”, and ends by being shot in a barn during the Troubles by his childhood playmate, the novelist’s son, who, in his caddish way has joined the War in the Black and Tans.

“The moral of the story is that no man has two lives: if he tries to mould his sons career to compensate for his own frustrations, he will be punished for it.”

McCarthy goes on to give a psychological analysis of the reason for this novel’s success: “It is a success story which suddenly goes into reverse. Thus the reader is allowed to identify himself with the Man Who Gets Ahead, and also to revenge himself on that Man for being exceptional. As in the David-Absalom story from which the book gets its title, the hero is raised up to almost godlike heights, and then, as a punishment for his pride, quickly, brutally cast down to the level of common humanity. It is interesting that in both the popular Biblical story and in the popular modern novel the revenge is visited on the person of the son and only indirectly on the father. This is, I suppose, because the reader has so thoroughly identified with the father that the father must not be permitted personally to fail: only a certain part of him, a projection of the ‘bad’ side of him, his son, can be shamefully laid low.

McCarthy’s discussion shoots sparks of insight all over the issues of the time: the fear of war, the marxist analysis of literature, the problem of popular culture, which problem she shunts nicely over to the publishers’ heads and market goals, and the immediacy of newspapers and news magazines such as Time, Fortune, and Life, in showing us on a daily basis the starkest of American realities.    I do love her energy and her ability to think with both her Vassar head and her Partisan Review partisanship. And the piece leaves us in the old ‘animal soup of Time’:  the issues may simply be “that nobody takes fiction very seriously any more”.