What is the connection between a 1914 article by Rebecca West on ""The Duty of Harsh Criticism"" and a 1974 religious spoof by Woody Allen? Very little, except they both appeared in The New Republic and are now included in this anthology of stories, poems and criticism from the magazine's first 60 years. It may be saying something about those years--or about The New Republic--to note that more than three-quarters of the 108 selections are taken from the decades before World War U. The editor remarks that the ""back of the book,"" the literary-critical part of the magazine, only really came into its own in two periods: during the 1920s when it helped introduce the modernist spirit to America, and in the Depression decade when both the front and back of the magazine were alive with political urgencies. In fact it is only the pieces from the Thirties that lend and validity to the title Literature and Liberalism; otherwise the volume might just as well have been called The Best of ... When a periodical like The New Republic is read as each issue comes out, it is automatically unified by time: this is what people are concerned about today. But the long spread of 60 years provides no such cohesion. The book will be useful to readers who wish to roam over a variety of short 20th century writings, finding here a well-known poem, there a second-rate story by a first-rate figure, later a good article that might otherwise have been lost. An introduction by Irving Howe examines, among other things, the startling fact that liberalism and literature have very little to do with one another these days.