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Max EastmanA Life$
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Christoph Irmscher

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300222562

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300222562.001.0001

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The Thinking Singer

The Thinking Singer

Chapter:
(p.210) 7 The Thinking Singer
Source:
Max Eastman
Author(s):

Christoph Irmscher

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300222562.003.0008

After his return to the United States in 1927, Max Eastman finds himself isolated from his former radical friends. A controversy with Sidney Hook over his interpretation of Marxism increases his depression, as does the lackluster response to his novel, Venture. Crystal Eastman’s untimely death in 1928 nearly ends Max’s career as a professional lecturer, but Eliena’s devotion to their marriage sustains him. Max’s translation of Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution reinvigorates his friendship with the exiled leader, although during Max’s visit to Prinkipo Island the men nearly come to blows over their different interpretations of dialectic materialism. Max publishes more poetry, a book on literature and science, an edition of Marx’s writings, and Artists in Uniform, a critique of the totalitarian takeover of literature in the Soviet Union. He collaborates on the innovative documentary Tsar to Lenin, while Enjoyment of Laughter, his second book on humor, becomes a best-seller. Max’s scathing review of Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon leads to a well-publicized fistfight between the two men. Worried about the Soviet infiltration of American life, Max is keeping lists of suspected communists in the U.S. and acts as the host of the popular radio show Word Game.

Keywords:   Venture, Crystal Eastman’s death, Sidney Hook, Leon Trotsky, Totalitarianism and literature, Ernest Hemingway, From Tsar to Lenin, Radio show, poetry

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