HELLS & BENEFITS by Benjamin De Mott


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Mr. De Mott is a multi-talented man: scholar, critic, novelist, and Professor of English at Amherst. He calls this book ""a series of independent essays ridden by a theme"". The theme is a survey of the obstacles ""to complication of character"" and ""belief in possibility"" which plague American culture and politics. In brief, it is another addition to the swelling tide of morally indignant social analyses. The essays range from a discussion of ""sickniks"" to comments on the aims of the Peace Corps to some shrewd literary sleuthing in Tennyson's formative years. At least half the book is directly concerned either with questions on the contemporary academic scene or with literary figures and problems (""Fiction is on its hunkers"") but the underlying social issues are never ignored. The author takes a very dim view of our present and future and does his best to be not ingratiating in manner, but he also constantly strives to make his scorn and fury serve a constructive purpose. Despite a tendency to jargon-coining and over-complicated sentences, he has contrived an extremely readable and thought-provoking book.

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1962
Publisher: Basic Books