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Malcolm Cowley Biography

(1898–1989), New Republic, Exile's Return, The Literary Situation

literary writers history editor

American historian, translator, critic, writer, and editor, born in Belsano, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard. After some time in Europe, where he became associated with Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, and Dos Passos (see Lost Generation), Cowley became an editor with the New Republic. Associated with the literary and political left in the 1930s, he helped organize the first League of American Writers Congress in 1935, and was a central figure in the heated debate over the relationship of politics and aesthetics. In 1934 he published Exile's Return, an autobiographical literary history of the 1920s. He then became an editor and literary adviser, and a prominent champion of such writers as Faulkner, Cheever, and Kerouac. As a critic he was hailed for his treatment of Faulkner's writing. His later writings concentrated on literary history in The Literary Situation (1954) and Think Back on Us: A Contemporary Chronicle of the 1930s (1969); Black Cargoes (1954) is a history of the black slave trade. His poetry appeared in Blue Juanita (1929) and The Dry Season (1941). Cowley also translated such writers as Valéry and Gide and produced two volumes of memoirs, entitled And I Worked at the Writer's Trade (1978) and The Dream of the Golden Mountains (1980). See also Proletarian Literature in the USA.

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