Dialectics of Disenchantment: Totalitarianism and Partisan Review
Shechter, Benli Moshe
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This dissertation takes the literary and culturally modern magazine, Partisan Review (1934-2003), as its case study, specifically recounting its early intellectual history from 1934 to 1941. During this formative period, its contributing editors broke from their initial engagement with political radicalism and extremism to re-embrace the demo-liberalism of America's foundational principles during, and in the wake of, the Second World War. Indeed, Partisan Review's history is the history of thinking and re-thinking "totalitarianism" as its editors journeyed through the dialectics of disenchantment. Following their early (mis)adventures pursuant of the radical politics of literature, their break in the history of social and political thought, sounding pragmatic calls for an end to ideological fanaticism, was one that then required courage, integrity, and a belief in the moral responsibility of humanity. Intellectuals long affiliated with the journal thus provide us with models of eclectic intellectual life in pursuit of the open society, as does, indeed, the Partisan Review.