America and Cosmic Man, by Wyndham Lewis
This is a curious book. We have become so accustomed to the picture of America as a cultural wasteland and to attacks on the standardization of American life, that when a writer singles out these widely deplored things for praise, he seems at first sight merely wilfully intransigent or paradoxical.
True, in recent years literary nationalism has become a familiar phenomenon represented by such figures as Dos Passos, MacLeish, and Van Wyck Brooks. But whereas the literary nationalists stick their thumbs into the American past in the hope of pulling out the plum of an authentic native heritage, Lewis is interested only in the future of America, and it is precisely its lack of a national tradition along European lines that pleases him. Far from seeking for values in the past, he devotes over half of his book to excursions into American history in order to emphasize the limited and unpromising beginnings of the nation which was “born out of that very parochial Partysystem of British origin” and founded by “bewigged replicas of English polite society.”
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