Reviews and interviews on Leopards in the Temple
As Dickstein’s study moves forward, its central irony only deepens: the more prosperous and outwardly peaceful the nation, the more existentially anxious its writers seem to become. The best writing from the 1950’s, as Dickstein says, has an undertone of hysteria, a desperate pathos, a sense of entrapment, a mournful sense of fear and loss.
The New Yorker:
Dickstein’s criticism is pointed without being harsh, and he is alive to the pleasures that even flawed works can provide. Most impressively, he uses history to illuminate fiction, and vice versa, but never forgets to keep the two realms separate.
Slate Book Club. Discussion featuring Christopher Caldwell on Leopards in the Temple:
“Its readings are attentive and original without being show-offy. Dickstein is almost allergic to the literary, cultural, sociological, and historical clichÃ©s that are the hallmark of other critics’ writing about the period he’s covering. … Anytime anyone writes a book of criticism that holds my interestâ€”and Dickstein has done it several times nowâ€”I’m left grateful and even wowed.”
World Literature Today:
Leopards in the Temple conjures up Columbia University in the 1950s, when academics such as Gilbert Highet, Moses Hades, Eric Bentley, Mark Van Doren, Lionel Trilling, and Majorie Nicholson shared their awesome knowledge in accessible prose with readers who never had the privilege of being in their presence. Dickstein both recalls that era and anticipates a time when academic discourse might filter down to those wishing to enter the temple and pet the leopards. Dickstein holds the keys to a kingdom that transformed a generation and at the same time enriched it.
Virginia Quarterly Review
Dickstein has, however, mastered a vast library of fiction and criticism.[…] Leopards in the Temple also derives its strength from the author’s personal engagement with his subject.
An elegiac note suffuses Dickstein’s astute and ardent rereading of works he has loved, as though he recognizes that he is observing the final flowering of American fiction before it is consigned to a hothouse off the beaten path.
Radio interviews by Hugh Lafollette of WETS on Leopards (click on interviewee’s name on WETS site to listen to audio):