Commentary Magazine


The Last Generation

To the Editor:

So David Bazelon thinks he is caught between generations [“A Writer Between Generations,” February]. Let me speak briefly . . . for the small but genuine non-community of us—the only Americans “alive” today with a legitimate claim to faceless interstitial-ism. I refer, of course, to those of us born in the middle to late 30′s, educated in the early and middle 50′s, dismissed as supernumerary in the 60′s: without so much as an hour in the sun.

If it is tough to be a second-generation Jewish literary intellectual (ah! the searing, painful self-consciousness; ah! the nostalgia for a dead socialist idealism; ah! the jealous revulsion against the new potted radicalism), imagine being too young ever to have truly experienced the old idealism, and still too old for the new. Too young for that side of Joseph McCarthyism, too old for this side of Eugene McCarthyism . . . too young for memory, too old for experience.

In short, imagine being born between two equally remote worlds—that of the Depression-World War II liberal intellectuals (as exemplified here by Bazelon), and that of the Rudds and Rubins, et al.—born between two worlds, one dead; the other (alas, even Matthew Arnold cannot speak for us) already powerful enough to be born.

Barbara F. Lefcowitz
Bethesda, Maryland

About the Author