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 publication types a bridge among the 2 parallel firms of tradition and politics. It indicates how politics justifies itself by means 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 genuine reader and author, one whose readability of fashion is as a result of his disciplined and candid mind.
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Additional resources for A Voice Still Heard: Selected Essays of Irving Howe
This age of conformity 13 Kristol writes an article minimizing the threat to civil liberties and shortly thereafter is chosen to be public spokesman for the American Committee for Cultural Freedom. And in the committee itself, it is possible for serious intellectuals to debate—none is for Senator McCarthy—whether the public activities of the Wisconsin hooligan constitute a serious menace to freedom. 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?
The pedant is a very adaptable creature, and can be as comfortable with Mr. Eliot’s “objective correlative,” Mr. Empson’s “ambiguities” and Dr. Leavis’s “complexities” as in the older suit of critical clothes that he has now, for the most part, abandoned. Davie has in mind the literary situation in England, but all one needs for applying his remarks to America is an ability to multiply. 6 All of the tendencies toward cultural conformism come to a head in the assumption that the avant-garde, as both concept and intellectual grouping, has become obsolete or irrelevant.
That union has since been dissolved, and there is no likelihood that it will soon be re-established. American radicalism exists only as an idea, and that barely; the literary avant-garde—it has become a stock comment for reviewers to make—is rapidly disintegrating, without function or spirit, and held together only by an inert nostalgia. Had the purpose of the avant-garde been to establish the currency of certain names, to make the reading of The Waste Land and Ulysses respectable in the universities, there would be no further need for its continuance.