Thursday, March 11, 2010

Journalism apparantly is about the journalist

Alistair Cooke died in 2004 at age 95. He was about 90 when The Great & The Good was published. Born in Manchester England and educated at Cambridge, Yale, and Harvard. he had a sixty-six year career as a foreign correspondent. Last night I was drawn to re-read this book after about 10 years. I was struck by statements in his preface. Right after leaving Cambridge at age 23, he swore off the entrenched fashion practiced by the “intellectual wolf pack of London, New York, and Rome, that literary and historical criticism is the cutting down to size the famous,…” …”Dr. Richards (helmsman of the new wave of English studies at Cambridge) and his pupil William Epson (the first deconstructionist) came along to ridicule and supplant.” I wondered, is that when it began, in the ‘30’s? The duty of the political or historic writer is to “make his bones” by selecting an enemy, declaring war, and destroy them? Cooke later in the preface proclaimed he made the surprising discovery that those people who share their political prejudices—drastically cut themselves off from enjoying at least half of the human race.