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Antolini came to strike me as a better modeldespite his bows to Wilhelm Steckel and his penchant for stump speeches about the Great Tradition: . . you'll find [he tells a shaken Holden] that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles.

By contrast, the polemics that now crackle along the political spectrum from the Nation to New Criterion divide the world into those mush-headed liberals who talk about government programs and sport "Save the Whales" stickers on their bumpers, and those who take a special delight in playing hardball and knowing how to order expensive wines. None of this, however, tells us much that is important about literature. By contrast, those who write inside the academy's walls might well argue that the missing character in the American novel is not, as Rahv thought, the intellectual (nor, as Lynn and Epstein hope, the contented capitalist) but, rather, the literary theorist.

It is nobody's business but your own. Do you have emotions? Strangle them. To a degree, everyone obeys this code. . [As a result] most serious matters are closed to the hardboiled. They are unpracticed in introspection, and therefore badly equipped to deal with opponents whom they cannot shoot like big game or outdo in daring. Joseph, the brooding protagonist of Dangling Man, has more in common with, say, Dostoyevsky's Underground Man than he does with those in the Hemingway school, whether their name be Natty Bumppo or Nick Adams.

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