Irving Babbitt  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Irving Babbitt (August 2, 1865July 15, 1933) was an American conservative academic and literary critic, noted for his founding role in a movement that became known as the New Humanism, a significant influence on literary discussion and conservative thought in the period between 1910 to 1930. He was a cultural critic in the elitist tradition of Matthew Arnold, and a consistent opponent of romanticism, as represented by the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Politically he can, without serious distortion, be called a follower of Plato and Edmund Burke.

He often published in a derogatory vein on figures from the French literature that was his avowed specialism. He also singled out Francis Bacon, and denounced 'naturalism' and utilitarianism. He met with increasing controversy down the years: those provoked into announcing their opposition included R. P. Blackmur, Oscar Cargill, Ernest Hemingway, Harold Laski, Sinclair Lewis, H. L. Mencken, Joel Elias Spingarn, Allen Tate, and Edmund Wilson. In the case of Mencken, at least, Babbitt gave as good as he got; he branded Mencken's writing as "intellectual vaudeville", a criticism with which posterity has had some sympathy.

Babbitt is often name-checked in discussions on cultural conservatism.

Works

  • Literature and the American College (1908)
  • The New Laokoön (1910)
  • The Masters of Modern French Criticism (1912)
  • Rousseau and Romanticism (1919)
  • Democracy and Leadership (1924)
  • On Being Creative (1932)
  • The Dhammapada (1936) translator, with essay
  • Spanish Character, and other essays (1940) reprinted as Character & Culture: Essays on East and West
  • Representative Writings (ed. George A. Panichas, 1981),





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Irving Babbitt" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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