Scenes and Portraits were autobiographical memories of childhood and youth, and sparkled with humor one had not expected...

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DAYS OF THE PHOENIX: The 1920's I Remember

Scenes and Portraits were autobiographical memories of childhood and youth, and sparkled with humor one had not expected from Van Wyck Brooks. Now in the continuation from the year when he settled in Westport, Connecticut, he strikes a middle ground between his own highly personal record and his recreation of the literary life in New York and Connecticut. To be sure, he provides the focal point; he was one of the editors of The Seven Arts, one of the contributors to this or that. The people who formed the nucleus of the so-styled intelligentsia (as distinguished from the Bohemians of the arts) were his friends and associates, and those of us who were too young in those days to be more than onlookers will find nostalgic enchantment in feeling an intimate part of their plans, their gatherings, their point of view, recaptured here. Quoting W.B. Yeats- as does Van Wyck Brooks- he ""tells about those things that are not old enough to be in the histories or new enough to be in the reader's mind"". And he does it through making the people who in their day made America's coming of age, live and breathe in his pages. Some of them are people who reflected phases of America's artistic growth- without being part of the literary coterie that was peculiarly his own; some characterized aspects that had their own repercussions on the literary growth, but belonged in another of the arts. Actually, for a limited portion of our literary development, and in a more sharply personal way, Van Wyck Brooks has added another panel to his major project, which began with The Flowering of New England. He gives us the expatriates returned, reluctant and critical, from a Europe at war; he gives us the sometimes painful growing pains of roots put down into a newly revitalized literary America.

Pub Date: March 18, 1957

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1957