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Writing for The New YorkerCritical Essays on an American Periodical$
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Fiona Green

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748682492

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748682492.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 05 July 2022

On Blustering: Dwight Macdonald, Modernism and The New Yorker

On Blustering: Dwight Macdonald, Modernism and The New Yorker

(p.228) Chapter 11 On Blustering: Dwight Macdonald, Modernism and The New Yorker
Writing for The New Yorker

Tom Perrin

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter considers US critic Dwight Macdonald's celebrated two-part hatchet job on so called middlebrow culture: ‘Masscult and Midcult’. However, it loses its edge when it comes to assessing The New Yorker, the middlebrow magazine for which Macdonald, at the time he wrote the articles in 1960, had been a staff writer for eight years. Like all middlebrow products, Macdonald says, The New Yorker is produced to a formula that makes it monotonous, except that its formula is better than the one used in editing its ‘Midcult brethren’. The chapter shows how Macdonald's prose emblematises a midcentury middlebrow literary mode called blustering. Blusterers, who appear all over middlebrow US prose of the early Cold War, aim to talk with the appearance of forthrightness, but they get so bogged down that they end up muddled and mired in self contradiction.

Keywords:   Dwight Macdonald, Masscult and Midcult, middlebrow culture, The New Yorker, blustering, American prose, self-contradiction

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