Masscult and Midcult by Dwight Macdonald
Essays Against the American Grain (New York Review Books Classics)

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Synopsis

A New York Review Books Original

An uncompromising contrarian, a passionate polemicist, a man of quick wit and wide learning, an anarchist, a pacifist, and a virtuoso of the slashing phrase, Dwight Macdonald was an indefatigable and indomitable critic of America’s susceptibility to well-meaning cultural fakery: all those estimable, eminent, prizewinning works of art that are said to be good and good for you and are not. He dubbed this phenomenon “Midcult” and he attacked it not only on aesthetic but on political grounds. Midcult rendered people complacent and compliant, secure in their common stupidity but neither happy nor free.

This new selection of Macdonald’s finest essays, assembled by John Summers, the editor of The Baffler, reintroduces a remarkable American critic and writer. In the era of smart, sexy, and everything indie, Macdonald remains as pertinent and challenging as ever.
 

About Dwight Macdonald

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Dwight Macdonald (1906-1982) was born in New York City and educated at Exeter and Yale. On graduating from college, he enrolled in Macy's executive training program, but soon left to work for Henry Luce at Time and Fortune, quitting in 1936 because of cuts that had been made to an article he had written criticizing U.S. Steel. From 1937 to 1943, Macdonald was an editor of Partisan Review and in 1944, he started a journal of his own, Politics, whose contributors included Albert Camus, Victor Serge, Simone Weil, Bruno Bettelheim, James Agee, John Berryman, Meyer Schapiro, and Mary McCarthy. In later years, Macdonald reviewed books for The New Yorker, movies for Esquire, and wrote frequently for The New York Review of Books. John Summers is the editor of The Baffler. Louis Menand is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of English at Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. He is the author of Discovering Modernism, The Metaphysical Club, American Studies, and The Marketplace of Ideas.
 
Published October 11, 2011 by NYRB Classics. 321 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Masscult and Midcult

The Guardian

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Dwight Macdonald was a prominent member of a group of American critics posthumously called the New York Intellectuals.

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The Guardian

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Publishers Weekly

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This collection brings together the most memorable writing by influential cultural and literary critic Macdonald.

Aug 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Masscult and Midcult: Essays ...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

As a Yale undergraduate, Dwight Macdonald made up one-third of the membership of a club called the Hedonists, whose motto was “Cynicism, Estheticism, Criticism, Pessimism.” Later, after a stint writing for Time and Fortune magazines, he became a proponent of various forms of Marxism before adopti...

Oct 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Masscult and Midcult: Essays ...

The New York Review of Books

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Oct 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Masscult and Midcult: Essays ...

The New York Review of Books

An uncompromising contrarian, a passionate polemicist, a man of quick wit and wide learning, an anarchist, a pacifist, and a virtuoso of the slashing phrase, Dwight Macdonald was an indefatigable and indomitable critic of America’s susceptibility to well-meaning cultural fakery: all those estimab...

Oct 06 2011 | Read Full Review of Masscult and Midcult: Essays ...

Inside Higher Ed

Macdonald himself wrote a substantial part of each issue, much of which he later collected under the tongue-in-cheek title Memoirs of a Revolutionist (1957) -- a book that, like nearly all of his work, remains both highly readable and out of print, The only volume by Macdonald now available is ...

Nov 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Masscult and Midcult: Essays ...

Artswrap

In Masscult & Midcult: Essays Against the American Grain, first published in 1962, MacDonald turned his formidable critical attention to what he saw as a new, and potentially catastrophic, development in the history of Western civilization: the influence-by turns distorting, destructive, and inad...

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