Selected Writings, 1950-1990

Irving Howe, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $34.95 (490p) ISBN 978-0-15-180390-3
Here we see one of the shrewdest, most civilized minds of our day in the interpenetrating roles of literary, social and political critic. In Howe's discussions of individual writers, one is struck by the rightness of his apercus: Celine, ``maestro of bad smells,'' whose antiheroes go a step beyond Dostoyevski's ``underground man'' by embracing rather than fearing nihilism; Sholom Aleichem, whose funny-sad stories about the Jews of Eastern Europe dispense ``a judgment of love through the medium of irony''; Dickens's semi-mythic Fagin, ``a monster drawn from the bad dreams of Christianity.'' Howe scrutinizes, among others, George Eliot, Babel, Faulkner, Solzhenitsyn (now declined, he asserts, into shrill egotism), and brilliantly pans gold in Frost (one might have wished for more poetry criticism, however). In the sociopolitical essays, he has sharp words for the Reagan era, ``a moment of moral smallness,'' and laments, while attempting to explain, the failure in America of liberalism and socialism. Fire, insight and humanity are Howe's hallmarks. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
Paperback - 490 pages - 978-0-15-680636-7
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