American Writing Today: Its Independence and Vigor

American Writing Today: Its Independence and Vigor

American Writing Today: Its Independence and Vigor

American Writing Today: Its Independence and Vigor

Excerpt

The best vantage point for a good view of American writing is probably the editorial office of a general magazine or of a book publishing house. The multitude of manuscripts that come to these offices daily from all over the country reveals turbulence and ferment on every level. There is hardly a corner of American life that our writers fail to explore: the Boston Irish and the Boston Brahmins, the Negro of the South and of the big cities of the North, the sharecroppers, the academic life, big business. Every national, religious, racial, social group is represented in that neverending rush of manuscripts. Every writing form is represented: the poem, play, short story, novel, history, biography. No editor can fail to be moved by it, and indeed no editor ever wearies of it or quite accepts it as routine. For one thing, he cannot if he is to survive as an editor and if his magazine or publishing house is to continue as a vital force in the community. But a more compelling reason is the expectancy and quiet excitement with which that daily manuscript mail is greeted. If, as happens all too often, most of the manuscripts have little quality and must be returned, the time they require is well spent. For they do reveal an unmistakable vitality in the land, they do reveal the country's innermost thoughts and hopes in more effective fashion than any of the highly publicized scientific polls.

The articles in this volume cover almost the entire range of American writing. Like the daily manuscript mail of the editor, they reveal an impressive quantity of writing about almost every aspect of living in the United States. Some figures of very great stature, perhaps of world stature, are discussed here, but even they . . .

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