One who has been aware, through some curious chance, of the recent technological history of industry will find this study commonplace. It is because such an awareness is both unusual and important that Industry's Coming of Age has been written. Perhaps my own preoccupation with the problems of contemporary economic life gives them an exaggerated importance in my mind; but still one cannot avoid knowing, independently of this, that these are the problems which furnish the background, even the theme, of much of our American literature. No poet, novelist or essayist seems able to ignore them altogether, though many apparently would like to: the treatment of industry in our literature betrays resentment more often than acceptance, bewilderment more often than confidence or mastery. A certain cumulative complexity may account for this--together with some disastrous defects in our traditional education and in our economic writing. American education cannot be said to have succeeded conspicuously in making us at home in our world; and economists have not risen to the challenge of a civilization which needs an expertness of their sort.
Living as we do in a world alien to us, it is not surprising that we think mostly in one of two ways: either how to escape, or else how to express our bitterness. Literary folk can adjust themselves by distilling upon paper the essence of their discomfort; less vocal persons, with the same gnawing in their souls, suffer in a silence relieved only on occasion and inadequately. Somehow