The 40s: The Story of a Decade

Overview

Including contributions by W. H. Auden • Elizabeth Bishop • John Cheever • Janet Flanner • John Hersey • Langston Hughes • Shirley Jackson • A. J. Liebling • William Maxwell • Carson McCullers • Joseph Mitchell • Vladimir Nabokov • Ogden Nash • John O’Hara • George Orwell • V. S. Pritchett • Lillian Ross • Stephen Spender • Lionel Trilling • Rebecca West • E. B. White • Williams Carlos Williams • Edmund Wilson
 
And featuring new ...
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The 40s: The Story of a Decade

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Overview

Including contributions by W. H. Auden • Elizabeth Bishop • John Cheever • Janet Flanner • John Hersey • Langston Hughes • Shirley Jackson • A. J. Liebling • William Maxwell • Carson McCullers • Joseph Mitchell • Vladimir Nabokov • Ogden Nash • John O’Hara • George Orwell • V. S. Pritchett • Lillian Ross • Stephen Spender • Lionel Trilling • Rebecca West • E. B. White • Williams Carlos Williams • Edmund Wilson
 
And featuring new perspectives by Joan Acocella • Hilton Als • Dan Chiasson • David Denby • Jill Lepore • Louis Menand • Susan Orlean • George Packer • David Remnick • Alex Ross • Peter Schjeldahl • Zadie Smith • Judith Thurman

The 1940s are the watershed decade of the twentieth century, a time of trauma and upheaval but also of innovation and profound and lasting cultural change. This is the era of Fat Man and Little Boy, of FDR and Stalin, but also of Casablanca and Citizen Kane, zoot suits and Christian Dior, Duke Ellington and Edith Piaf.
 
The 1940s were when The New Yorker came of age. A magazine that was best known for its humor and wry social observation would extend itself, offering the first in-depth reporting from Hiroshima and introducing American readers to the fiction of Vladimir Nabokov and the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop. In this enthralling book, masterly contributions from the pantheon of great writers who graced The New Yorker’s pages throughout the decade are placed in history by the magazine’s current writers.
 
Included in this volume are seminal profiles of the decade’s most fascinating figures: Albert Einstein, Marshal Pétain, Thomas Mann, Le Corbusier, Walt Disney, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Here are classics in reporting: John Hersey’s account of the heroism of a young naval lieutenant named John F. Kennedy; A. J. Liebling’s unforgettable depictions of the Fall of France and D Day; Rebecca West’s harrowing visit to a lynching trial in South Carolina; Lillian Ross’s sly, funny dispatch on the Miss America Pageant; and Joseph Mitchell’s imperishable portrait of New York’s foremost dive bar, McSorley’s.
 
This volume also provides vital, seldom-reprinted criticism. Once again, we are able to witness the era’s major figures wrestling with one another’s work as it appeared—George Orwell on Graham Greene, W. H. Auden on T. S. Eliot, Lionel Trilling on Orwell. Here are The New Yorker’s original takes on The Great Dictator and The Grapes of Wrath, and opening-night reviews of Death of a Salesman and South Pacific.
 
Perhaps no contribution the magazine made to 1940s American culture was more lasting than its fiction and poetry. Included here is an extraordinary selection of short stories by such writers as Shirley Jackson (whose masterpiece “The Lottery” stirred outrage when it appeared in the magazine in 1948) and John Cheever (of whose now-classic story “The Enormous Radio” New Yorker editor Harold Ross said: “It will turn out to be a memorable one, or I am a fish.”) Also represented are the great poets of the decade, from Louise Bogan and William Carlos Williams to Theodore Roethke and Langston Hughes.
 
To complete the panorama, today’s New Yorker staff, including David Remnick, George Packer, and Alex Ross, look back on the decade through contemporary eyes. Whether it’s Louis Menand on postwar cosmopolitanism or Zadie Smith on the decade’s breakthroughs in fiction, these new contributions are illuminating, learned, and, above all, entertaining.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“An absolutely breathtaking assemblage of some of America’s finest and most lasting writing . . . This is magnificent stuff, a cornucopia of truly distinguished literature, a near-perfect gift to give and an entirely ideal one to receive.”Booklist (starred review)

“A book to be read, reread and savored . . . an absolute treat . . . This is the soul of The New Yorker.”Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-02
Make room on the bookshelf. The New Yorker's look at 1940s history, culture, literature and civilization is a book to be read, reread and savored. Divided into seven sections—The War, American Scenes, Postwar, Character Studies, The Critics, Poetry and Fiction—this book shows how founder Harold Ross (1892-1951) could single out the most important aspects of history and culture—and not just of New York, but of the country. As a further bonus, each of the sections features an introduction from a contemporary writer; these include George Packer, Zadie Smith, Susan Orlean, David Denby and Louis Menand. After the war, the magazine, toning down its New York-centric stance, experienced a journalistic awakening. In this book, the editors begin each section with a short explanation of the genre followed by "Notes and Comments" by the eternally delightful personification of the New Yorker, E. B. White. Readers are certain to enjoy the beautiful writing, clever thinking and insightful thoughts across a vast range of topics. To choose an article, poem or short story from this great wealth of writing is beyond difficult: There is Lillian Ross' indictment of the House Un-American Activities Committee; Joseph Mitchell's article on McSorley's Old Ale house, the oldest Irish tavern in New York City; Richard O. Boyer's profile of Duke Ellington, who took jazz from New Orleans bawdy houses to Paris and beyond; and E. J. Kahn's hagiographic profile of the widowed Eleanor Roosevelt. Don't look for cartoons—they've had enough coffee-table books of their own; this is the soul of the New Yorker. An abbreviated list of the contributors includes such luminaries as Edmund Wilson, Rebecca West, A. J. Liebling, George Orwell, W. H. Auden, John Hersey, Langston Hughes, Carson McCullers and William Maxwell. An absolute treat. Hopefully, the New Yorker will continue to publish such anthologies on other decades.< BR>★
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679644798
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/6/2014
  • Pages: 720
  • Sales rank: 32,055
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

The New Yorker began publishing in 1925.
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