John Reed: The Making of a Revolutionary

By Granville Hicks; John Stuart | Go to book overview
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VII
THE ROMANTIC REVOLUTION

THE genie's daughter brought Reed back from the castle on the mountain-top. He had given up his job on the American when he went to Italy, and now, in October, 1913, he became managing editor of the Masses. The cartoons and pictures were becoming better and better. To Young, Sloan, and Becker had been added K. R. Chamberlain, George Bellows, Glenn Coleman, and Stuart Davis. They drew the life of New York that John Reed had learned to love: crowded streets, night courts, Coney Island, the markets, saloons, and alleys. Young, always thrusting at capitalism, had provoked a libel suit by the Associated Press with his cartoon, "Poisoned at the Source." Sloan did a devastating back cover on the Binghamton factory fire. Other artists attacked the evils of capitalism or satirized the absurdity of middle-class pretensions. But for the most part they were discoverers, awakening, just as John Reed had awakened, to the rich variety of Manhattan, never indifferent to the injustice and cruelty that were part of that variety, but equally excited by the fate of a political prisoner, the woes of a prostitute, and the misadventures of rowdy boys.

Reed's own contribution reflected as catholic a taste as the drawings. He wrote a simple, restrained sonnet on a farmer's woman, and the editors of the Masses, in the midst of political upheavals and economic warfare, devoted a full page to the poem and the drawing by Sloan that accompanied it. He satirized philanthropy in "Another Case of Ingratitude." He wrote a one- act played called "Moondown" about the romantic dreams of working girls. Whatever he found that was fresh and alive was material for the Masses.

-109-

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