An End to Innocence: Essays on Culture and Politics

An End to Innocence: Essays on Culture and Politics

An End to Innocence: Essays on Culture and Politics

An End to Innocence: Essays on Culture and Politics

Excerpt

Reading over my essays for the purpose of making this collection has been an instructive, though somewhat sobering, experience. Certain phrases that must have struck me once as apt or beautiful I have found not even comprehensible; while certain emphases seem now excessive, and certain declarations of conviction over-rhetorical. I have not hesitated to prune and amend and rewrite where it seemed profitable, though in no case have I made a major change; and several of these pieces I have not retouched at all. I have, as a matter of fact, been pleased to discover how often I have managed to tell what still seems to me the truth about my world and myself as a liberal, intellectual, writer, American, and Jew. I do not mind, as some people apparently do, thinking of myself in such categorical terms; being representative of a class, a generation, a certain temper seems to me not at all a threat to my individuality. As one who dearly loves a generalization (this the reader will soon discover), I relish all that is typical, even me; and I like to think of myself as registering through my particular sensibility the plight of a whole group.

I must hasten to add, however, that the groups for which I think I speak often regard me not as their appointed mouthpiece but as a rather presumptuous apostle to the gentiles; and this (I confess) I do not find altogether distasteful. By instinct and training I am polemical--and preaching to the converted has no appeal for me at all. Of course, I do not enjoy being misunderstood, and have suffered in the past when something written in pure rage and love (my Rosenberg article) has been called "gloating." But I will always remember with real joy the cry from the soul of a young man I met for a moment and by chance. Discovering that I had written "Come Back to the Raft," he looked at me reproachfully through a long minute . . .

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