Hip figures : a literary history of the Democratic Party by Michael Szalay

By Michael Szalay

Hip Figures dramatically alters our figuring out of the postwar American novel through displaying the way it mobilized fantasies of black kind on behalf of the Democratic social gathering. desirous about jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll, novelists equivalent to Norman Mailer, Ralph Ellison, John Updike, and Joan Didion became to hip tradition to barter the voter realignments then reshaping nationwide politics. Figuratively transporting white execs and bosses into the skins of African american citizens, those novelists and so forth insisted on their lonesome value to the objectives of a celebration depending on coalition-building yet no longer totally dedicated to integration. Arbiters of hip for readers who were not, they successfully branded and advertised the liberalism in their moment—and ours.

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Thus Mailer’s An American Dream (1965) centers on Stephen Rojack, a former Democratic Party congressman, evocative of John F. Kennedy, who must physically best a hyper-masculine jazz musician, Shago Martin, who grew up struggling on the mean streets of Harlem. Mailer modeled Martin on Miles Davis—this despite the fact that Davis was the son of a well-to-do dentist. ”53 24 Introduction Mailer rewrites Davis and bebop, but revealingly so. Rojack doesn’t want to emulate Martin. He wants to control him.

The combination of these elements with the Western farmers and the old-fashioned South would make a formidable bloc” (25). In the years to come, the professional classes to which Ransom wished to appeal did not in fact align themselves with southern interests. Considered as a whole, “sociologists, educators, [and] artists” would commit to liberal causes and affiliate with the Democratic Party. Likewise, “the European point of view” so prized by Ransom would after the Second World War tend to encompass forms of state socialism that were anathema to the Agrarians.

9 This makes sense as a reading of King’s Men : Burden serves Stark, we’re led to believe, because he wishes to atone for the racial crimes of his class—because he is white and because Stark, “proud and angry” as he is, is symbolically black. 10 The black power that Newton would later channel roils beneath the surface of Warren’s novel. Stark is accompanied 42 Chapter 1 everywhere he goes, for example, by one “Sugar-Boy,” who “couldn’t talk”; “he wouldn’t win any debating contests in high school,” Burden reports, “but then nobody would ever want to debate with Sugar-Boy.

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