The Immediate Experience: Movies, Comics, Theatre, and Other Aspects
of Popular Culture by Robert Warshow (Harvard University Press) This
collection of essays, which originally appeared as a book in 1962, is virtually
the complete works of an editor of Commentary magazine who died, at age 37, in
1955. Long before the rise of Cultural Studies as an academic pursuit, in the
pages of the best literary magazines of the day, Robert Warshow wrote analyses
of the folklore of modern life that were as sensitive and penetrating as the
writings of James Agee, George Orwell, and Walter Benjamin. Some of these
essays--notably "The Westerner," "The Gangster as Tragic Hero," and the pieces
on the New Yorker, Mad Magazine, Arthur Miller's The Crucible, and the Rosenberg
letters--are classics, once frequently anthologized but now hard to find. Along
with a new preface by Stanley Cavell, The Immediate Experience includes several
essays not previously published in the book--on Kafka and Hemingway--as well as
Warshow's side of an exchange with Irving Howe. "A legendary little book, partly
because its author died at the age of 37, but mostly because it stands as a
virtually unique representative from its period of a consistently open-minded,
moral, aesthetic, and political engagement with commercial culture." --Louis
Until his early death at the age of 37, Robert Warshow, an Editor at Commentary, was a vibrant fixture in the academic coterie known as the "New York Intellectuals." Writers such as Dwight Macdonald, Mary McCarthy, Daniel Bell, Lionel Trilling, Hannah Arendt, Nathan Glazer, and Clement Greenberg (to name just a few) comprised this esteemed group of cultural critics, united in their commitment to an anti-Communist left. As a whole, the New York Intellectuals avidly debated the topic of American commercial culture. Some regarded it as mostly propaganda and kitsch, while others heralded it as a democratization of art and taste. Warshow's brilliance lay in the fact that he both understood the superficialities of middlebrow culture and the ideological subtexts of mass culture and he acknowledged that popular culture plays a more complicated role in people's lives‑including the lives of intellectuals than sociological or political analysis is likely to reach. He taught readers to respond to movies without losing their political sense. In the forties and fifties readers hungered for Warshow's insights not only because of their immediate connection with his subject matter, but also because of his heightened focus and insistence on his own critical authenticity.
Warshow's writings were first gathered and published in 1962. Now, for the first time, Harvard University Press is publishing virtually the complete works of Robert Warshow in The Immediate Experience.
Along with a new introduction by David Denby and a new preface by Stanley Cavell, The Immediate Experience includes several essays not previously published in the book‑on Kafka and Hemingway‑as well as Warshow's side`of an exchange with Irving Howe. The vastness of Warshow's reach was impressive as he composed analyses of the folklore of modern life that were as sensitive and penetrating as the writings of James Agee, George Orwell, and Walter Benjamin. Varied and unrestrained, Warshow wrote about topics as diverse as Krazy Kat, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, The Lone Ranger, E.B. White, Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, and Charlie Chaplin, Many of the essays in The Immediate Experience, most notably "The Westerner," "The Gangster as Tragic Hero," and the pieces on the New Yorker and Mad Magazine are classics once frequently anthologized, but, up until now, extraordinarily hard to find.A transformative work of scholarship in the histories of American history and popular culture, The Immediate Experience is sure to interest contemporary cultural critics as well as the general reader. Always fun and unpredictable, Warshow's tongue can be at times slick or caustic, while at others, lyrically infused in its own truthful beauty.
Sleuths, Ghouls and Gals Transport Readers to Pulp Culture
PULP CULTURE: The Art of Fiction Magazines by Frank M. Robinson and Lawrence Davidson ($39.95 hardcover, jacketed, 208 pages, 440 full color pulp covers, Collectors Press,ISBN: 1888054123)
Owning the largest quality collection of pulp fiction magazines in the world, the authors have assured PULP CULTURE: The Art of Fiction Magazines contains only the finest examples. This is the most comprehensive compilation ever published on the subject. It is a must for graphic artists and designers, fiction lovers and anyone who appreciates fiction art of the golden age.
From its origins in the late nineteenth century, when adventure stories reigned, through almost six decades of slinking sleuths, galloping ghouls, nitty-gritty gals, and invincible warriors, the pulp magazine transported readers to new territories of the mind. Not only did these publications help popularize authors such as Dashiell Hammett, Ray Bradbury, and Edgar Rice Burroughs, they now provide a panorama of some sixty years of illustration and social commentary.
Their virtues were legion and their readers numbered in the millions. Pulp magazines, with their graphic stories, gripped legions of readers for three decades. To draw readers, brilliant artist-legends to be such as J.C. Leyendecker and N.C. Wyeth were recruited in their early years to design the most outlandish covers possible. They were the proving ground for scores of writers and illustrators who went on to entertain the multitude in other publications. But when they died, it was with a whimper, not a bang, and the only ones who remember them now are historians and collectors.
This art book is quite comprehensive, a colorful compilation as yet published on the subject. The pulps were born when competition meant husking bees and the Chatauqua. They even flourished when radio was preoccupied with the contents of Fibber McGee’s closet and the nickelodeon had morphed into a pleasure place where the flickering images on the screen had finally learned to talk.
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