A Moral Temper by Michael Wreszin
The Letters of Dwight Macdonald

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Synopsis

Dwight Macdonald's biographer has brought together in one volume a comprehensive selection of letters from the correspondence of one of the most astute observers of American politics, society, and culture in the twentieth century. Macdonald's letters span his lifetime, from his education at Exeter and Yale in the twenties through his career as an editor of Partisan Review, founder of Politics magazine, staff writer for the New Yorker, columnist for Esquire, and cultural critic and essayist for other major publications. The scope of his interests was extraordinary as was the diversity of friends and colleagues who became his correspondents. He had an instinctive grasp of the important fact and important thought, and an uncanny ability to bring an issue before the intellectual community, of which he was a prominent member. Macdonald consistently had his eye on what he felt was a change in the moral temper of the times and a prevailing dehumanization of the individual. Few spoke more eloquently against the mechanized terror of the modern world and of the separation of means from ends. His letters, always spirited and engrossing, trace the life of an upper-middle-class white male, schooled in the elite institutions of the WASP establishment, who managed to jettison the prejudices and provincialism of his class and, through the force of an inquiring mind, become a penetrating critic of mid-century American civilization.
 

About Michael Wreszin

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Published August 6, 2001 by Ivan R. Dee. 512 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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He told Mary McCarthy that he found Dos Passos “fattish and complacent” at a dinner in 1946 and called The Age of Innocence “a very good second-rate novel.” Macdonald’s professional ethics are everywhere on display (he refused, for example, to publish with Henry Regnery because of that publisher’...

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The early letters to his parents and, from the 1930s through the '70s, the dozens written to many noted American editors, thinkers and writers (from Henry Luce and Stephen Spender to John Leonard and Harrison Salisbury) range from insightful and witty to cranky (he complains about advances and ro...

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