Has the American culture that could once generate an Edmund Wilson become incapable of generating anyone similar today? Has something fundamental changed in American life, and is the age of critics-in-general (and readers-in-general) behind us?
The idea that some such downward development has taken place was proposed by Russell Jacoby in Dissent in 1983, then was elaborated by James Atlas in the New York Times Magazine and again by Jacoby in a slightly muddled book called...
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