Tagged Critical Edition

Bob Dylan Unmasked

Poet or Prophet? No battle about Bob Dylan has raged as fervently as the one about the self of Bob Dylan — whether there is a true self beyond what had been invented for the audience. In the mid-1960s Dylan and the Beatles were given dual credit for making rock music more adult, since as songwriters they…

The Very Short Dead Critics Gift Guide

In the 1950s, three esteemed critics, Jacques Barzun, W.H. Auden, and Lionel Trilling formed the editorial board of the Readers’ Subscription Book Club. That Club and its successor, The Mid-Century Book Club, had as their missions to bring sophisticated new and classic books to a general public. The essays these critics wrote individually as introductions to these books are collected in the wonderful A Company of Readers (edited by friend of the site Arthur Krystal), and will provide fodder for future posts; but as a special holiday treat I’m going to look at one of the few selections they all…

Dwight Macdonald Takes a Machete to the Culture of the 1950s

Forget Elia Kazan. When it comes to naming names in 1950s America no one was more ruthless than Dwight Macdonald, and he was at his most hostile in “Masscult & Midcult” (1960). This essay — jeremiad, really — is Macdonald’s crusade against what he deems “Midcult,” or middlebrow culture. As Louis Menand puts it in his Introduction to the…