A Voice Still Heard: Three Essays by Irving Howe

A Voice Still Heard: Three Essays by Irving Howe

In celebration of a new anthology of Howe’s writing, we present three of his essays not previously published in Dissent: “This Age of Conformity” (1954), “The New York Intellectuals” (1969), and “Strangers” (1977).

Irving Howe, Stanford University, 1962

“Irving Howe,” writes Cornel West in a 1993 remembrance, “was the towering public intellectual of his generation.” A new anthology, A Voice Still Heard, collects four decades of writing by Dissent’s founding editor, edited by Nina Howe and published by Yale University Press.

Here, we present three of his classic essays not previously published in Dissent: “This Age of Conformity” (1954), Howe’s scathing rebuke to his intellectual contemporaries and their capitulation to the status quo of Cold War liberalism; “The New York Intellectuals” (1969), Howe’s autobiography of his generation of literary and political critics; and “Strangers” (1977), Howe’s account of his double alienation from the American cultural mainstream, first as the son of Jewish immigrants and second as a leftist.


This Age of Conformity (1954)

“The dominance of liberalism contributes heavily to our intellectual conformity. Liberalism dominates, but without confidence or security; it knows that its victories at home are tied to disasters abroad; and for the élan it cannot summon, it substitutes a blend of complacence and anxiety.’” Continue reading…


The New York Intellectuals (1969)

“The New York intellectuals were the first group of Jewish writers to come out of the immigrant milieu who did not define themselves through a relationship, nostalgic or hostile, to memories of Jewishness. They were the first generation of Jewish writers for whom the recall of an immigrant childhood does not seem to have been completely overwhelming.” Continue reading… 


Strangers (1977)

“Being an American, we have been told repeatedly, is a complex fate, and being an American writer still more so: traditions ruptured, loyalties disheveled. Yet consider how much more complex, indeed, how utterly aggravating, it could have been to grow up in an American subculture, one of those immigrant enclaves driving itself wild with the clashing hopes that it would receive the New World’s blessing and yet maintain a moment of identity neither quite European nor quite American.” Continue Reading…


All three essays are republished, with permission, from A Voice Still Heard: Selected Essays of Irving Howe, edited by Nina Howe and published by Yale University Press.

New York readers, please join us on Monday evening for the 19th Annual Irving Howe Memorial Lecture. 

The Crisis in Reading

The 19th Annual Irving Howe Memorial Lecture

Join the CUNY Center for the Humanities and acclaimed historian Anthony Grafton for a lecture on the state of reading, which will argue that reports of the death of books and readers are greatly exaggerated.

Monday, November 10 at 6:30 p.m.
CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY
The Skylight Room (9100)
Free and open to the public.

Socialist thought provides us with an imaginative and moral horizon.

For insights and analysis from the longest-running democratic socialist magazine in the United States, sign up for our newsletter: