DOINGS AND UNDOINGS by Norman Podhoretz


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Norman Podhoretz, the vigorous young editor of Commentary, has in his first critical collection touched upon a dazzling array of sociological and literary matters, most of which caused excited reactions when first aired in various magazines, including the controversial appraisals of Arendt, of the Negro problem, of the Beat Generation, of Baldwin, of Kahn, etc., etc. Truly an illuminating guide to the puzzles of contemporary ""doings and undoings"". However, having one's finger on the pulse of up-to-the-minute activity almost ipso facto lessens one's chances of being read ten or even five years hence. And the interestingly deep delvings into Faulkner, Edmund Wilson and a very few others aside, Podhoretz' customary stance is less that of textual analysis than that of the elongated editorial. He has a boyish combativeness which no amount of middle-age stylizing like Lionel Trilling can diminish. His judgments may be entertainingly harsh, as with Roth and Updike, but not particularly convincing, and with McCarthy and Mailer there are moments of contradictions and bravado. Yet if one can zero Podhoretz in as the Sunshine Kid of the Intelligentsia, it must also be said he's made his own cultural niche and it's a very notable one indeed.

Pub Date: March 16th, 1964
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Co.