Writing in the current issue of Dissent (Winter, 1985), David Bromwich—associate professor of English at Princeton and author of a recent study of William Hazlitt—reflected on the phenomenon of “Literary Radicalism in America” as a means of ascertaining the effect of American literary avant-gardes on the politics and art of this country. In the course of his essay, he adverts to The New Criterion and to its writers as being engaged in the effort to “invent cultural conservatism in America,” a task he evidently finds lacking in high seriousness, if not vain. I should not have said that this was the general aim of the journal, since cultural conservatism has been a constant fact of American life and is reflected in our jurisprudence and law, in aspects of our politics and religion, in the human sciences, in social and intellectual history, and in our art and criticism. It...


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