Macdonald, Dwight

Macdonald, Dwight,

1906–82, American author and editor, b. New York City. As an associate editor (1928–36) of the business magazine Fortune he acquired a distaste for capitalism, and in 1937 he became editor of the radical Partisan Review. In the left-wing factionalism of the 1930s and 40s, Macdonald moved from Stalinism to Trotskyism and then to pacifism and to anarchism. In 1943 he left Partisan Review, protesting its support of World War II. As a vehicle for his wry and intensely personal essays he founded Politics (monthly 1944–47; quarterly 1947–49). His works include Henry Wallace (1948), The Root Is Man (1953), and The Ford Foundation (1956). His Memoirs of a Revolutionist (1957) traces his philosophy through his articles. Against the American Grain (1962) comprises his essays deploring the effects of mass culture on the arts, a subject that dominated his later articles. Other collections of his essays and reviews include Dwight Macdonald on Movies (1969), Politics Past (1970), and Discriminations (1974).


See M. Wreszin, ed., A Moral Temper: The Letters of Dwight Macdonald (2001); S. Whitfield, A Critical American (1984); M. Wreszin, A Rebel in Defense of Tradition (1994).

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Macdonald, Dwight

(1906–82) essayist, critic; born in New York City. Entering journalism after graduating from Yale, he eventually became a staff writer for the New Yorker (1951–71). His essays and political, social, and literary criticism, renowned for their ironic wit, were collected in several volumes including The Memoirs of a Revolutionist (1957) and Against the American Grain (1962). A lifelong left-wing activist, he often publicly debated political issues; he lectured widely, for example, against the Vietnam War.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.