As the essays in this book attest, in a time of specialization John McCormick chose diversification, a choice determined by a life spent in many occupations and many countries. After his five years in the U. S. Navy in the Second World War, the academy beckoned by way of the G. I. Bill, graduate training, and a career in teaching. Prosperity in the American university at the time meant setting up as a "Wordsworth man," a "Keats man," or a "Dr. Johnson man": all chilling to the author. He chose self-exile in which he disguised himself as an "Americanist" saleable in Europe, and lectured happily in comparative studies: literature, history, and philosophy. Thus the broad range of this volume, both in subject matter and in the span of time it covers.
The essays are divided into three sections. First are general and personal essays on a variety of topics, followed by work on individual writers, and third, writings on criticism and theory. A section on Santayana reflects his eight years of research for Santayana's biography. The writings on Spain and toreo (bullfighting) result from another long-held interest, together with the author's attempt to alter some of the romantic nonsense about the running of the bulls in Pamplona, too often the entire substance of what the general public knows about Spain. McCormick has long been convinced that without knowledge of bullfighting, the foreigner cannot comprehend arcane and wonderful aspects of the Spanish character.
The coda, "Another Music," is an old man's attempt to solve the mysterious algebra of how the world turns now, and how the young appear to the aged. While the volume is diverse in its range of writers--from Whitman in America to Santayana in Europe, taken as a collectivity, these essays provide a sense of the grandeur as well as the decadent in twentieth century politics and aesthetics alike. Written with the literary taste and political non-conformity that still characterizes McCormick, the volume is a treat for the specialist (perhaps) and for the generalist (certainly).
Table of Contents
Part 1: General and Personal
The Berlin Uprising: Cold War Turning Point?
The United Snopes Information Service
Gott Mit Whom?
A Most Mysterious Disaster
Down Low and Hard Up
Snobbery and the American Scene
Part 2: Individual Writers
The Rational Shelley
Walt Whitman: Orientalist or Nationalist?
The Urban and the Urbane: Iris Murdoch and Saul Bellow
An English Bohemian in Spain: Gerald Brenan
Lorca in Our Time
Philip Larkin: An American View
James Joyce and Hermann Broch: From Infl uence to Originality
Part 3: Literary Criticism and Theory
Problems of "Poetic Prose" in English and French
Down with Translation
Toward a Comparative American Literary History
Problems and Occasions for the American Scholar
A Novel of Ideas
Santayana's Idea of the Tragic
The Last Puritan Once More
Santayana's Reading of Freud
Santayana and Ezra Pound
Santayana's The Sense of Beauty:
Being the Outlines of Aesthetic Theory
Benedetto Croce's aesthetic: An Introduction
Franco, Spain, and the Third Reich
Antonio Ordonez and Others
The Bullfight Gentrified