By Russell Jacoby
"Russell Jacoby's superb research of our decreased highbrow existence is, in itself, a hopeful signal: may possibly he flourish." -Gore Vidal This provocative e-book chronicles the disappearance of the "public highbrow" in the US. For over thirty years, the cultural panorama has been ruled through the new release of Irving Howe, Daniel Bell, and John Kenneth Galbraith; no more youthful staff has arisen to prevail them. in contrast to prior intellectuals who lived in city bohemias and wrote for the expert public, contemporary thinkers have flocked to the schools, the place the politics of tenure loom better than the politics of tradition. In an incisive and passionate polemic, Russell Jacoby examines how gentrification, suburbanization, and educational careerism have sapped the energy of yank highbrow lifestyles.
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Extra resources for The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in the Age of Academe, 2nd edition
The losses seemed trifling; they gave up the pleasures of sleeping late, schmoozing with frienh, and dreaming up their own projects; they also gave up the deep anxiety of selling their dreams to indifterent editors so as ta eat and pay the rent, insiders sddom romanticized the life of free-lance writing. "" The gains of academic life-salaries, security, summersseemed hardly offset by the drawbacks: the occasional lectures at eight in the morning, the committee drudgery, and, sometimes, a new location distant from old friends.
T o be an intellectual entailed being a profeuor. This generation flowed into the universities, and if they wanted to Ese intellectuals, they stayed. The issue is not their taIent, caurage, or politics. Rather, the occasion to master a pubjic prose did not arise; consequently, their writings lacked a public impact. Regardless of their numbers, to the larger public they are invisible. The missing intellectuals are lost in the universities. For intellectualsborn before 1940 universities did not play the same role.
Trilling aludes to this in recalling his dissertatio~ "Something of the intellectual temper of the time . . "'~ Trilling was much the exception in following the straight and narrow academic path. D. , as did Iwing Howe or Alfred Kazin, or to be awarded degrees on the basis of past work, as were Daniel Bell or Nathao Glazer. A younger intellectual could no more show up for a dissertation "defense" with a collection of essays written for several magazines, which constituted The End ofideology, than he or she could show up without taking the requisite number of credits and seminars-and without paying the proper fees.