What We've Been Reading—7.31.15

I am in the first 50 page of Midcentury, a 1961 novel by John Dos Passos. Dos Passos (born 1896, died 1970) is largely forgotten today. He doesn't even appear much on syllabi in undergraduate American literature courses. There are two reasons for that. One is Dos Passos' politics. Like so many others, he started out as a writer on the left, in the 30s flirting with the Communist Party and joining Hemingway in Spain to help in the fight against the Fascists. The murderous conduct of Stalinists in Spain turned him off of communism, and further world events pushed him farther right during and after the war. The more he came to despise collectivism, even to the point of briefly supporting Joe McCarthy, the less the literary world favored him. The other reason Dos Passos has disappeared is literary. (Randy Boyogoda's essay in the current issue of First Things directly relates to this point.) His fiction comes out of an era in which the novel was a great carrier of history and ideas.

Exiles

Several months ago, I disembarked a bus here in New York City, moved into a Brooklyn studio apartment, and began a summer of service here at First Things. These few weeks have been full of learning, . . . . Continue Reading »

Stubborn Hope

The worst sinner in Christian history was Judas Iscariot. Of course he betrayed Christ and handed him over to his death. That was bad. But far worse was his internal conviction that things couldn’t . . . . Continue Reading »