Civilization in the United States: An Inquiry by Thirty Americans

Civilization in the United States: An Inquiry by Thirty Americans

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Civilization in the United States: An Inquiry by Thirty Americans

Civilization in the United States: An Inquiry by Thirty Americans

Read FREE!

Excerpt

This book has been an adventure in intellectual co-operation. If it were a mere collection of haphazard essays, gathered together to make the conventional symposium, it would have only slight significance. But it has been the deliberate and organized outgrowth of the common efforts of like-minded men and women to see the problem of modern American civilizas tion as a whole, and to illuminate by careful criticism the special aspect of that civilization with which the individual is most familiar. Personal contact has served to correct overemphasis, and slow and careful selection of the members of a group which has now grown to some thirty-odd has given to this work a unity of approach and attack which it otherwise could not possibly have had.

The nucleus of this group was brought together by common work, common interests, and more or less common assumptions. As long ago as the autumn of last year Mr. Van Wyck Brooks and I discussed the possibility of several of us, who were engaged in much the same kind of critical examination of our civilization, coming together to exchange ideas, to clarify our individual fields, and to discover wherein they coincided, overlapped, or diverged. The original desire was the modest one of making it possible for us to avoid working at cross-purposes. I suggested that we meet at my home, which a few of us did, and since that time until the delivery of this volume to the publishers we have met every fortnight. Even at our first meeting we discovered our points of view to have so much in common that our desire for informal and pleasant discussions became the more serious wish to contribute a definite and tangible piece of work towards the advance of intellectual life in America. We wished to speak the truth about American civilization as we saw it, in order to do our share in making a real civilization possible -- for I think with all of us there was a common assumption that a field cannot be . . .

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