Tag: Daniel Aaron

Daniel Aaron, 1912-2016

Daniel Aaron, the literary scholar, has died. Though Aaron was one of the last of the greats who made American midcentury letters what it was, I only truly came to his work (after dipping in and out of it for years) recently. This past summer, in fact. I was preparing for my talk on public intellectuals, so I read Writers on the Left. I thought I knew the broad outlines of American writers and the left in the first half of the twentieth century. Ten pages into the book, I realized I didn’t know anything. I remember long rides on the subway, from Coney to Forest Hills and back, taking notes on the back pages of the book. I felt like I was in […]

Walt Whitman, Bolshevik

Reading Daniel Aaron’s Writers on the Left on the F train this morning, I found out that Walt Whitman was one of the very first American writers translated by the Soviet government after the Revolution. Reading around the internet after I got home, I discovered the following: In 1919, the Petrograd Soviet of Workers and Red Army Deputies printed 50,000 copies of Leaves of Grass. During the Civil War, Whitman’s works were rushed to Red Army soldiers at the front. Between the Revolution and the collapse of the Soviet Union, 28 editions of Whitman’s works were published. I also found out, from Aaron, that initial funding for The Masses came from the Vice President of the New York Life Insurance Company. Things […]