He's all Dwight

Remembering Dwight Macdonald's work
By PETER KADZIS  |  October 20, 2011

Throughout the 1940s, 50s, and '60s, Dwight Macdonald was one of the nation's most provocative and original literary, political, and cultural critics. Macdonald helped pioneer the idea that the industrialization of culture would lead first to commodification and ultimately to corruption. History, alas, has proven him far more right than wrong.

Macdonald was a tough talent to pigeonhole. A self-described "conservative anarchist," he resisted the McLuanesque tendency to bifurcate medium and message. For Macdonald, form and content, style and substance were inseparable — a double helix of meaning.

Today Macdonald is a cultural footnote, sadly ignored by too many at a time when his habits of mind could prove instructive.

To remedy this, John Summers, the editor of the soon to be re-launched Baffler (now based in Cambridge), has gathered a selection of Macdonald's most culture-centric pieces, Masscult and Midcult: Essays Against the American Grain, published by NYRB Classics.

Tonight Summers will be joined by Louis Menand, of Harvard and TheNew Yorker, who wrote the introduction to this volume, for a discussion of Macdonald and his work.

The time: 7 pm. The place: Harvard Bookstore, 1256 Mass Ave in Harvard Square. The event is free.

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