With the death of Dwight Macdonald on December 19, the surviving remnant of the old Partisan Review circle has been deprived of its most ebullient spirit. Macdonald was the most famous as well as the most brilliant and admired journalist to emerge from that circle, and he was in certain respects the most exotic of the many talents that it nurtured. He was the supreme example in our time of a type that has been very little written about—the political dandy who finds in radical doctrine, no matter what that doctrine happens at the moment to espouse, the materials for fashioning a personal aesthetic.

Such writers are often taken to be moralists, and this was frequently the case with Macdonald, especially in the period (1944-49) when he was editing the journal called politics. Indeed, he was ridiculed by his friends on Partisan Review at that time for advocating what they...


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