Thursday, May 6, 2021

‘The Free World’ explains how culture warmed up during the Cold War


Before becoming dean of the school of graduate education, Amanda Kleboug, a close associate of Menand in Harvard’s English department, said that embedding ideas into stories is an “analytical mode” for Menand. “If you tell a story, you have to think in very concrete and specific terms about how culture works at a particular moment, how some ideas, influences, how a person encounters it.”

What was the size of Menand?

He grew up in the Boston area, where his father was an administrator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His great-grandfather, Louise Menand (the writer is technically Louis Menand IV), was a French horticultural scientist in the successful florist business in New York. Today, after the ancestor of the author, a village embracing the Hudson River north of Albany is called.

Menand left the East Coast for the only extended period of his life to attend Pomona College in Claremont, California. Large wall, “Prometheus” by Mexican artist Jose Clemente Orozco, who appears in “The Free World” as the inspiration of Jackson Pollock. After a year of law school, Menand studied English at Columbia in 1980, followed by a doctorate in 1980. He taught at Princeton before landing at the CUNY Grad Center in 1988 and landed at Harvard in 2003. He contributed to The New Republic and the New York Review. In 2001 before becoming a staff writer at The New Yorker in 2001.

This is a life story, which would not be out of place in “Donsbury”. But the Boomers – who began being born in 1946 – were not really the generation of the ’60s. Hayden and Mario Savio, their last chapter student activists, were born in 1939 and 1942 respectively. Méndand, who is half of his generational cohabitation, turned 18 in 1970.

Menand personally knew many of the figures in his book, such as Susan Sontague, who died in 2004. But his connection to its events may be best considered by literary critic Lionel Trilling. Menand went to Columbia in 1974 to study under Trilling and his Acollatis, but finished just one class with Trilling – a symposium on poet William Wordsworth – before he died in 1975.

In others the time of mendend may also be a recipe for nostalgia, even resentment. But he seems untouched by the thought that he came too late.

He was compelled as a young man to contribute to New York-focused “small magazines”, as did Trilling and Sontague; Her bylines appeared in Partisan Review and Decent. But his goal even then was to appear in The New Yorker and Esquire, and these days he does not consider himself, he said, “to write in, or as a successor, some sort of New York intellectual tradition.”



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