Part of Our Time, by Murray Kempton
have found this an oddly moving book, though it is sentimental, philistine, and a little ingenuous. As a matter of fact, it has brought me as near as I hope I shall ever come to an appreciation of those mild vices. For it is precisely his sentimentality, his ingenuousness, and his philistinism which enable Mr. Kempton to tell certain truths about the 30′s—or, as he prefers to say, “the myth of the thirties.” Now “myth” is a tricky word, but Mr. Kempton makes it quite clear what he wants it to mean. “Any myth,” he tells us, “is the creation of the very few who cannot bear reality.” And the reality intolerable to the “very few” Communists and fellow-travelers turned informer, bureaucrat, and Hollywood hack with whom his book deals is “the reality that man is alone on this earth.” Mr. Kempton’s victims and sufferers turned from the realization of this truth to the “myth of community,” which is for him not only false but viciously false, “the malignant unreal.” And those who subscribed to it can only be classified as “a little group of the sick” still (in large part) trying to convince themselves that once, for better or worse, they were the voice and conscience of the nation.
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