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AMERICA'S STRATEGY IN WORLD POLITICS, by Nicholas John Spykman. Harcourt Brace and Co., New York. 472 pp. $3.75.

By J. A. B.

LONG before the publication of "The Flowering of New England" and "New England: Indian Summer," Van Wyck Brooks was attacking American literature for failing to realize its potentialities. "In these days," Lewis Mumford once wrote, "Mr. Brooks was the first to announce that we had still to use its earth and its sky and the experience that lay between them in the creation of American art and thought." Returning to his capacity as critic rather than historian, Brooks here attacks the prevalent cynicism and defeatism in our contemporary writing.

The general tenor of all literary history has been of courage and faith in human nature, according to Brooks, but American authors during the last twenty years have tended to take the opposite viewpoint. Possibly throught Spengler's influence, certainly through the cynicism and disillusionment caused by the World War, modern writers like Hemingway, Eliot, O'Neill, and Dreiser are primarily concerned with pointing out that "life is a dark little pocket." Brooks appeals for more of the Homeric mood, for writers like Robert Frost and Lewis Mumford, genuine idealists who have an appreciation of human nature and the heroic aspects of life.

Brooks attacks obscenity in modern writing as being as childish as Howell's prudery. He feels that the preponderant portion of our contemporary literature is written by adolescent minds, by men such as Hemingway, Wolfe, and Meucken. These writers, he asserts, feel that their most important duty is to "face life," but in so doing they have become "emotionally shallow."

In his plea for an assertive American literature, Brooks adopts the optimistic viewpoint himself. He characterizes the period we are now going through as growing pains, and feels that eventually our writing will become emotionally mature. When the opposition lines up its full firing power, the battle ought to be well worth watching. D.R.

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