Neo-Conservatism and American Literature
Traditional Impulse and Radical Idea
By now the “new conservatism” is an old story. What has not been noticed, however, is the attempt to square American literature with conservative opinion in morals, politics, and religion. This attempted revaluation has taken various forms, some of them ingenious, and it is still going on. But like the new conservatism itself, the new account of our literature is based on certain false notions about American culture.
True, there has been a wider response among the American people to the intellectual conservatism of the 1950′s than there was to the intellectual radicalism of the 1930′s, which, despite the higher quality of mind that went into it, was never able to affect very lastingly the vast complacency of the American middle classes. Yet this broad social base upon which the conservative theoreticians rest has failed to give any noticeable moral solidity to the new conservatism. Nor have the conservatives been able to evolve a convincing ideology in support of their position.
About the Author