Left with the Arts

Left with the Arts

The Cultural Front:
The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century
by Michael Denning
Verso, 1996 556 pp $25, cloth; $20, paper

In 1950, Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) published Yertle the Turtle. A brief summary of this illustrated story in rhyming couplets for readers who may not have a copy on hand: The happy king of a pondful of contented reptiles suddenly gets infected with big ambitions. “I’m ruler,” explains Yertle, “of all that I see./ But I don’t see enough./ That’s the trouble with me.” He commands his turtle-subjects to stack themselves up into a throne. From his perch atop their shells, Yertle imagines himself to be “king of the trees” and “king of the bees.”

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