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Hohenberg, veteran journalist and Columbia professor who has been the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes for the last twenty years, disclaims in his introductory note that this history celebrating the 60th anniversary of the awards falls into the ""authorized"" bias, insisting that it is not ""a book that would seek merely to glorify."" And while it is true that he does not suppress the controversies and literary causes celebres that decisions have so often created, neither is he critic of the outrageous conservativism of the judges who through the years have rejected what they called the ""smut"" and ""erotica"" of Steinbeck, the ""offensive"" and ""lascivious"" For Whom The Bell Tolls, the unwholesome ""Lesbianism"" of Lillian Hellman. Hohenberg's style is the clear, classic, digestible ""Old Journalism"" for which the Columbia ""J"" School -- endowed by Pulitzer at the same time as the prizes -- is justly famous. His account begins with the publisher's negotiation of his ""dream"" with the awesome and autocratic university-builder Nicholas Murray Butler and records each and every decision in the fields of Journalism and Letters (Fiction, Poetry, Drama, History, Biography and, later, Music and Non-fiction)from 1917-73 (so no explanation for the passing over of Pynchon this year). The journalism awards have been impressive even though the incompetence in other areas is indefensible. This is no more than just-the-facts in the colorless, dry prose of ""the paper of record""; nevertheless Hohenberg's comprehensive presentation of Columbia's establishmentarian policy in the administration of their prizes has provocative socio-cultural implications.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1974
Publisher: Columbia Univ. Press