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Small Town

Granville Hicks

Publication Year: 2004

Granville Hicks was one of America's most influential literary and social critics. Along with Malcolm Cowley, F. O. Matthiessen, Max Eastman, Alfred Kazin, and others, he shaped the cultural landscape of 20th-century America. In 1946 Hicks published Small Town, a portrait of life in the rural crossroads of Grafton, N.Y., where he had moved after being fired from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for his left-wing political views. In this book, he combines a kind of hand-crafted ethnographic research with personal reflections on the qualities of small town life that were being threatened by spreading cities and suburbs. He eloquently tried to define the essential qualities of small town community life and to link them to the best features of American culture. The book sparked numerous articles and debates in a baby-boom America nervously on the move.Long out of print, this classic of cultural criticism speaks powerfully to a new generation seeking to reconnect with a sense of place in American life, both rural and urban. An unaffected, deeply felt portrait of one such place by one of the best American critics, it should find a new home as a vivid reminder of what we have lost-and what we might still be able to protect.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Preface to the Fordham University Press Edition

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pp. ix-xv

Granville Hicks saw it coming. “Has any small town a future in this age of industrialism, urbanism, and specialization?” he asks in his classic work of 1946, which examined a town caught in the decline of small-scale society that even back then was well underway...

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Granville Hicks: Champion of the Small Town

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pp. xvii-xxxvii

Granville Hicks (1901–1982), while best known as an advocate of the small town, was a widely published author, literary critic, and early socialist. After graduating from Harvard University, Hicks married Dorothy Dyer in 1925 and taught briefly at Smith College...

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Author’s Preface

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pp. xil-xl

Because it would be impossible to conceal from any resolute investigator the identity of the town about which this book is written, I have employed only the flimsiest of disguises. If I do not use the name that the town bears on the map, that is to remind...

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I: Starting Out From Roxborough

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pp. 1-13

This was a week, a not unrepresentative week, in the autumn of 1945.
Sunday was memorable because I finished reading Volume VI of Arnold Toynbee’s Study of History. That, however, was late in the evening, after a day that was for the most part spent out of...

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II: The Natural History of an Intellectual

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pp. 13-33

Of his transposition from Brook Farm and Concord to the Salem Custom House Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, “I took it in good part, at the hands of Providence, that I was thrown into a position so little akin to my past habits, and set myself seriously to gather...

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III: What Came With the House

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pp. 34-51

When we went farm hunting in the spring of 1932, it was simply a house we were looking for, a house in which we could spend our summers. In a general way we knew what we wanted: privacy, a view, open fields, some woods, perhaps a brook. The house, we...

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IV: The Rise and Fall of a Country Town

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pp. 52-74

This town of ours straddles a range of hills lying between the valley of the Hudson and the valley of the Little Hoosac. Going west from Troy, one climbs steadily and crosses the Roxborough border at an elevation of approximately one thousand feet. The...

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V: The Influence of a Ghost

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pp. 75-91

Prosperity reached Roxborough in the middle forties, but the town didn’t change much. People wore better clothes when they bothered to get dressed up, and there seemed to be more drinking, but it is hard to think of other changes. Of course war conditions...

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VI: The Mind of Roxborough

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pp. 92-122

Public opinion polls contrive to give the impression that as a nation we are in a constant state of agitation over all sorts of domestic and foreign problems. Eighty or ninety or sometimes ninety-nine per cent of the people interviewed are able to say that...

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VII: Human Nature, Roxborough Style

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pp. 123-151

As I have said, nothing gives Roxborough greater satisfaction than a first-class scandal. Some five winters ago we kept hearing that various summer places had been broken into and pillaged. To begin with, gossip was chiefly occupied with the failure of the...

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VIII Institutions and People

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pp. 152-180

People who live together create or adopt or have forced upon them institutions that more or less adequately serve their common needs. On the surface the institutional life of Roxborough is easy to describe. What lies below the surface is a different matter...

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IX: The Future of the Town

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pp. 181-203

The people of Roxborough frequently say—Stan Cutter with enthusiasm, most others with regret—that the town is going back to forest. It is one of the Roxborough stereotypes, this conviction that more and more houses will be abandoned and...

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X: The Larger Society

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pp. 204-226

The kind of socialism that I and my friends believed in back in the twenties rested on nineteenth century humanitarianism and a nineteenth century faith in the human intellect. We had been brought up to believe that a good society was a moral society...

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XI: The Burden on the Schools

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pp. 227-246

If there is one conclusion to be drawn from our investigation of the mind of Roxborough, it is that universal compulsory education hasn’t been a great success. The testimony of the Sole Trustee of Common School District Number One is thus added...

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XII: The Duty of the Intellectuals

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pp. 247-256

As I have said before, a growing awareness of the intellectual’s limitations has not diminished but actually increased my respect for his particular talents. The question is whether these talents are being used to the best advantage of society. Certainly the...

A Granville Hicks Bibliography

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pp. 257-258

Index

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pp. 259-272


E-ISBN-13: 9780823248476
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823223572
Print-ISBN-10: 0823223574

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2004