Remembering Irving Howe

Remembering Irving Howe

In May, our friend Irving Howe died, one of the great figures among the so-called “New York Intellectuals.” He belonged to a generation that first made itself known in the pages of the Partisan Review, one of the great magazines of this century in Europe or America. For a brief period, Partisan Review symbolized the alliance between political and aesthetic radicalism, between revolutionary thought and the artistic avant-garde. The alliance didn’t last long, and Partisan Review became one of the battlefields on which the intellectual war of the second half of the twentieth century was waged: a political and philosophical dispute that was, as well, a fight in defense of the freedom of literary expression and against oppression and lies disguised as “socialism.” Irving Howe never gave up his youthful belief in social democracy, or his moral integrity. He was an uncomfortable witness for both sides because with the same fearless intellect he reproached the imperialist policies of his own country and condemned the horrors of the Soviet regime and its satellites.

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