Vol. 17 No. 1 1950 - page 13

cied ourselves," said Joseph Freeman of the most earnest people of the
twenties, "disinterested devotees of art, revolution and psychoanalysis.
All these seemed indiscriminately to point the way to universal human
freedom from external oppression and internal chaos." Max Eastman
could pin his faith simultaneously on
The Masses
The Enjoyment
of Poetry,
and Floyd Dell could write a Compton Mackenzie quest
novel about the education of a middle-western socialist; the realities
of the Russian revolution and the poetry of T. S. Eliot-both of which
Max Eastman came to hate-were not yet evident. It took ten years
for this split between Marxism and literature to mature, so that Fitz–
gerald could write, jokingly but revealingly, to Wilson: "[Alec] told
me to my amazement that you had explained the fundamentals of
Leninism, even Marxism the night before, and Dos tells me that it
was only recently made plain thm the same agency to the
New Re–
I little thought when I left politics to you and your gang in
1920 you would devote your time to cutting up Wilson's shrouds into
blinders! Back to Mallarme!"
For the most part, however, the attitude was less earnest than
Josephson and Eastman's. For a moment after the war it looked as if
the political strain this generation had inherited from Wells and Shaw
would predominate over the aesthetic, as if the interest which would,
in the thirties, produce
To the Finland Station
would anticipate the
interest which would, in the twenties, produce
Axel's Castle.
The res–
ponse to
Three Soldiers,
in 1921, showed the feelings which could
have led to this result. Fitzgerald's own review of the book is typical.
"The reader," he says, "will hear [in
Three Soldiers]
the Y.M.C.A.
men with their high-pitched voices ... he will see these same obnoxi–
ous prigs charging twenty cents for a cup of chocolate.... He will
see the filth and pain, cruelty and hysteria and panic, in one long
three-year nightmare and he will know that the war brought the use
of these things ... to himself and to his
son.... " At the same
time, he speaks of the war in that tone which Mencken made stylish,
as "The whole gorgeous farce of 1917-1918." "When the police rode
down the demobilized country boys gaping at the orators in Madison
Square [on May Day in 1919] ," Fitzgerald recalled, "it was the sort
of measure bound to alienate the more intelligent young men from the
prevailing order....
goose-livered businessmen had this effect on
the government, then maybe we had gone to war for
P. Morgan's
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