The Century's Midnight
Dissenting European and American Writers in the Era of the Second World War
Year of Publication: 2010
Oxford, 2010. XIV, 594 pp., 4 ill.
ISBN 978-1-906165-25-3 hb. (Hardcover)
ISBN 978-3-0353-0055-0 (eBook)
Weight: 1.410 kg, 3.109 lbs
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The Century's Midnight is an exploration of the literary and political relationships between a number of ideologically sophisticated American and European writers during a mid-twentieth century dominated by the Second World War. Clive Bush offers an account of an intelligent and diverse community of people of good will, transcending national, ideological and cultural barriers. Although structured around five central figures - the novelist Victor Serge, the editors Dwight Macdonald and Dorothy Norman, the cultural critic Lewis Mumford and the poet Muriel Rukeyser - the book examines a wealth of European and American writers including Hannah Arendt, Simone de Beauvoir, Walter Benjamin, John Dos Passos, André Gide, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, George Orwell, Boris Pilniak, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ignacio Silone and Richard Wright.
The book's central theme relates politics and literature to time and narrative. The author argues that knowledge of the writers of this period is of inestimable value in attempting to understand our contemporary world.
Contents: 'It is Dead and it is Not Dead': Time and Testimony in Victor Serge - Posts of the Good: Dwight Macdonald's politics - 'My Dear Plutocratic but Lovely Friend': Dorothy Norman and TWICE A YEAR - Lewis Mumford: Remaining Present in 'the Ringing Grooves of Time' - The Art of Memory: Muriel Rukeyser and the Turning World.
About the author(s)/editor(s)
Clive Bush is Emeritus Professor of American Literature at King's College London. He pioneered the teaching of American Studies at the University of Warwick from 1966 to 1990. His books include Halfway to Revolution: Investigation and Crisis in the Work of Henry Adams, William James and Gertrude Stein (1991) and Holding the Line: Selected Essays in American Literature and Culture (Peter Lang, 2009).
«This book is a literary work in its own right: rich, dense, personal, diverse, very learned, and engaged. Clive Bush tells an extraordinary narrative here, a many-sided story consisting of many stories not so much woven as uttered together, mirrors on each other and on the wider world in which they occur, both in the 1940s and now. [...] The archival work is the foundation, that's clear, but the work comes across as it should, not as an academic exercise but as personal experience of reading and thinking. It's creative work in the best sense. To recall Lewis Mumford's apt words: this is history written as art, scholarship as the medium of personal vision.» (Alan Trachtenberg, Neil Gray, Jr. Professor Emeritus, Yale University)