By Warner Berthoff
Probes postwar American writers' abandonment of distinguishing positive factors of literary workmanship in writings considered as testaments of private survival and displays at the clients of literature in a time of cultural hindrance and glide
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Extra info for A Literature Without Qualities: American Writing Since 1945
Ntle of achievement. Even those who aimed, after 1945, to say something radically original attached them selves so far as possible to workshop motives and purposes dating back to 1900 and 1912. " Marepi'lan, Jauti'luteHHblj;\ aeropCKi'IM npaeoM 28 A Literature Without Qualities end of the twenties? ) One way, indeed, of establishing the character of the collective literary-historical event I am defining here is to remind ourselves how much there was in the literary situation of 1945 to obscure even the possibility of its occurring.
Whatever the pathos and personal urgency of such niotives, they appear to have, at least for authors, strict limits as a constitutive source. A literature that stakes everything on their potency is a literature likely to have lost confidence in any measure of ef fectiveness except personal relief, survivor's in demnification. Certainly it is one that has given up Marep1-1an. JaU11>1U1eHHblii1 asropcK1>1M npasoM A Generation in Retreat 45 resisting, or even trying seriously to humanize, the long technological-institutional revolution of mod ern history; has given up attempting to legislate some antithetical collaborative order-the dream that for better or worse nourished the arts through out the Romantic and modernist era.
In a quite literal sense we find ourselves, as we look around, unable to define and pursue any private interest, or imagine taking part in any scheduled act or event, that cannot quickly enough be shown to have unbreakable con nections with something elsewhere in the world that is intolerable to consciousness. We begin to see how Ma1ep111an. il aa1opcK111M npaaoM 42 A Literature Without Qualities everything that happens, everything it is now possi ble to satisfy personal curiosity about, can become an exclusionary advantage for son1e people and a cause of new misery for masses of others.