suppose someone had to do it—concoct an earnest analysis, thick with the newest jargon, of the literary productions of Mike Gold, who once characterized Proust as “the masturbator of the bourgeois literature,” and of Gold’s colleague in the Communist literary apparat of the 1930s, Joseph Freeman. The concocter is James D. Bloom, a professor at Muhlenberg College, who in Left Letters guides us through, among other intricacies, Gold’s “traditionalist nostalgia.” This, we are told, “exposes an affiliative identification with the cultural heritage labeled the American Renaissance.” And key passages in Freeman’s novel Never Call Retreat are enriched in their “dialectic deformation” by the “nonverbal analogues” supplied by the canvases of Picasso and the films of Sergei Eisenstein.

Is it unfair to ask what Mike Gold, soi-disant...


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