Dwight Macdonald of whom Trotsky said:
- 'Everyone has the right to be stupid but Macdonald abuses the privilege', would never get away with such a careless review in the age of the internet savant, saving my presence. So often is the hatchet job that is supposed to have destroyed the literary career of James Gould Cozzens mentioned in reviews of Macdonalds essays that I must presume that it is on a publicist's cheat sheet of facts you ought to mention. Besides it will save you the considerable time it takes to read By Love Possessed. If you did as I did being as I am on the completist spectrum you would easily spot Macdonalds careless reading. But you probably won't because the book relates the adventures of a coterie of WASP lawyers and others in a county town in Pennsylvania or New England, I'm not sure which. It knocked Peyton Place off the best seller list in 1957 so it has some sex scenes in it which might have been written by that Egypto-Hellenic purveyor of filth, Plotinus. Is there some fustian in the book. Yes, certainly, some but not nearly as much as Macdonald makes out. Does it have some anti-Catholic, anti-Irish and anti-Semitic bias in it, via the characters in it? Yes it does reflect the reality of the characters, a primary aspect of any novel. Simultaneously it also depicts the Arthur Winner Jun. as a hypocrite and an enabler of the mingling of monies entrusted to his associate. Defalcation my friend. Over a weekend a deconstruction of WASP probity in every area of their lives is brought out into the strong sunlight from the usual adumbration. Like any long novel it has its parts that pull a bit like a razor that wants honing but it's never painful. I would recommend it.
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