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Dwight Macdonald

Dwight Macdonald

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Also Known As: Dwight Macdonald Jr. Died: December 19, 1982
Born: March 24, 1906 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: critic, editor, writer, social and political activist

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This entertainingly outspoken, very left-wing critic expounded for some 40 years on film, literature, culture and politics. Born into an upper-middle class New York family, Macdonald was educated at Exeter and Yale, and got his first literary job editing the new magazine Fortune in late 1929. He resigned in 1936 over an editorial disagreement, and about this time "evolved from a liberal into a radical and from a tepid Communist sympathizer into an ardent anti-Stalinist." He revived the Partisan Review in 1937 and began contributing Trotskyite articles to New International in 1938. He also wrote for Nation, The New Yorker and Harper's, among others. From 1943-49, Macdonald edited Politics, which boasted such contributors as Albert Camus, Mary McCarthy and James Agee. He joined the staff of The New Yorker in 1951 as a social/cultural writer, also working as movie critic for Esquire from 1960-66 (at which point he switched to political writing for them). His film articles--also published in Miscellany, Symposium and Film Heritage--were collected as "Dwight Macdonald on Movies" (Prentice-Hall, 1969). He harangued against middle-brow culture ("Midcult") in films, and the acceptance by contemporary critics...

This entertainingly outspoken, very left-wing critic expounded for some 40 years on film, literature, culture and politics. Born into an upper-middle class New York family, Macdonald was educated at Exeter and Yale, and got his first literary job editing the new magazine Fortune in late 1929. He resigned in 1936 over an editorial disagreement, and about this time "evolved from a liberal into a radical and from a tepid Communist sympathizer into an ardent anti-Stalinist." He revived the Partisan Review in 1937 and began contributing Trotskyite articles to New International in 1938. He also wrote for Nation, The New Yorker and Harper's, among others.

From 1943-49, Macdonald edited Politics, which boasted such contributors as Albert Camus, Mary McCarthy and James Agee. He joined the staff of The New Yorker in 1951 as a social/cultural writer, also working as movie critic for Esquire from 1960-66 (at which point he switched to political writing for them). His film articles--also published in Miscellany, Symposium and Film Heritage--were collected as "Dwight Macdonald on Movies" (Prentice-Hall, 1969). He harangued against middle-brow culture ("Midcult") in films, and the acceptance by contemporary critics of what he considered to be pretentiously trendy films.

Macdonald let up on film criticism in the late 1960s, concentrating on anti-war efforts and literary editing. Towards the end of his life, he broke ties with all of his former political parties, describing himself as a "Mugwump."

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Agee (1980)
2.
 Lost, Lost, Lost (1975)
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Milestones close milestones

1920:
Became interested in writing while at Phillips Exeter
:
Was associate editor of <i>Fortune</i> (first issue Feb. 1930)
:
Became interested in left-wing politics
1937:
Revived magazine <i>Partisan Review</i>; resigned in 1943
1944:
Founded left-wing literary magazine <i>Politics</i>; edited until 1949
1951:
Became staff writer at <i>The New Yorker</i>
:
Worked as film critic for <i>Esquire</i>
1966:
Began writing political column in <i>Esquire</i>
1967:
Protested Vietnam war
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Education

Collegiate School: New York , New York -
Barnard School for Boys: Bronx , New York - 1914 - 1920
Phillips Exeter Academy: Exeter , New Hampshire - 1920 - 1924
Yale College, Yale University: New Haven , Connecticut - 1928

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Nancy Macdonald. Married c. 1935; divorced c. 1950; co-founded Spanish Refugee Aid in 1953.
companion:
Joan Colebrook. Had relationship c. 1950-51.
wife:
Gloria MacDonald. Art historian. Married c. 1951.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Dwight Macdonald. Lawyer. Died 1926.
mother:
Alice Macdonald. Daughter of wealthy Brooklyn merchant.
brother:
Hedges Macdonald. Banker. Younger brother; was vice president, Northern Trust Company.
son:
Michael Cary Dwight Macdonald. Mother, Nancy Macdonald.
son:
Nicholas Gardiner Macdonald. Mother, Nancy Macdonald.
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Bibliography close complete biography

"Henry Wallace, the Man and the Myth" Vanguard
"The Root is Man: Two Essays in Politics" Cunningham
"The Ford Foundation: The Men and the Millions" Reynal
"Memoirs of a Revolutionist: Essays in Political Criticism" Farrar, Straus & Cudahy
"Against the American Grain" Random House
"Dwight Macdonald on Movies" Prentice-Hall
"A Rebel in Defense of Tradition"
"A Moral Temper: The Letters of Dwight Macdonald" Ivan R. Dee
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