- Hardcover: 512 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 21, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195098684
- ISBN-13: 978-0195098686
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,683,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Lively Arts: Gilbert Seldes and the Transformation of Cultural Criticism in the United States 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
In his 1924 book The Seven Lively Arts, Seldes (1893-1970) made the then-controversial claim that popular entertainment and culture should be treated just as seriously, and as rigorously, as the so-called high arts. Krazy Kat and Irving Berlin were worthy of critical attention, he said; and arts criticism in America hasn't been the same since. Kammen, a historian, stresses the "hands-on" aspect of Seldes's long and versatile career. He was a historian, novelist, playwright, filmmaker, scriptwriter, journalism school dean, newspaper and magazine columnist and CBS's first director of television. Although at times Kammen seems curiously defensive, his balanced and insightful account of Seldes's professional life?from the early '20s at the Dial magazine (and the beginning of long-running feuds with both Hemingway and the Algonquin Round Table set) to the 1950s debates on the role of "mass culture"?is a story of a life as well as a history of pop culture on the rise. Seldes, Kammen says, thought of himself as "a highbrow populist" and was a "compulsively candid critic." Kammen weights Seldes's contributions fairly but can be equally candid. Photos.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Cornell University's Kammen is an astute student of U.S. cultural history; People of Paradox (1972), A Machine That Would Go of Itself (1986), and Mystic Chords of Memory (1991) suggest his scope. It's hardly surprising that he would find Seldes a fascinating biographical subject. Seldes was a major contributor to arts criticism and magazine journalism from the 1920s to the 1960s: edited The Dial when it published T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland; wrote a classic defense of popular art, The Seven Lively Arts (1924), hundreds of magazine articles, a successful Broadway treatment of Lysistrata, and programs for radio and TV; and was founding dean of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communications. Seldes fought with Hemingway, George Jean Nathan, and Edward R. Murrow and wrestled with issues of current relevance, including "dumbing down" vs. "leveling up" in the mass media and government's role in supporting (or restraining) artistic expression. Seldes shed light rather than heat on significant artistic issues American society has faced. Mary Carroll
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