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The Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes and the Transformation of Cultural Criticism in the United States

by Michael G. Kammen

  • ISBN: 9780195098686
  • ISBN10: 0195098684

The Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes and the Transformation of Cultural Criticism in the United States

by Michael G. Kammen

  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Oxford Univ Pr on Demand
  • Publish date: 03/01/1996
  • ISBN: 9780195098686
  • ISBN10: 0195098684
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Description: He was a friend of James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, e.e. cummings, John Dos Passos, Irving Berlin, and F. Scott Fitzgerald - and the enemy of Ezra Pound, H.L. Mencken, and Ernest Hemingway. He was so influential a critic that Edmund Wilson declared that he had played a leading role in the "liquidation of genteel culture in America". Yet today many students of American culture would not recognize his name. He was Gilbert Seldes, and in this brilliant biographical study, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Michael Kammen recreates a singularly American life of letters. Equally important, Kammen uses Seldes's life as a lens through which to bring into sharp focus the dramatic shifts in American culture that occurred in the half-century after World War I. As he traces Seldes's remarkable evolution from an acknowledged aesthete and highbrow to a cultural democrat with a passion for the popular arts, Kammen recaptures the critic's prescience, wit, and generosity for a newly expanded audience. We witness Seldes's triumphs and travails as managing editor of The Dial, the most influential literary magazine of its time, and read of New York's endlessly feuding publications and literary rivalries. Kammen offers wonderfully detailed accounts of The Dial's introduction of "The Wasteland" in its November 1922 issue; Seldes's review of Ulysses for The Nation, one of the first (if not the very first) to appear in the U.S.; and the complete story of the writing, publication, and critical reception of The Seven Lively Arts, Seldes's most influential book. And Kammen also covers Seldes's astonishingly versatile later career as a freelance writer (on every conceivable subject), historian, novelist, playwright,filmmaker, radio scriptwriter, the first program director for CBS Television, and the founding dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania.
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