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Overview for Randall MacLowry
Randall MacLowry

Randall MacLowry


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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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