The American Twenties: A Literary Panorama


edited by John K. Hutchens.Lippincott, $5.00.
Mr. Hutchens’s introduction shows how vital a stimulus a masterly introduction can be. He evokes, with the most telling allusions, with just the proper soupçon of nostalgia, the exciting literary climate of the twenties — “that mordant, light-hearted, serious-minded, complex and seminal time”; and his appraisal of its works is full of sense and sensibility.
The American Twenties includes stories, excerpts from novels, poetry and light verse, letters, profiles, criticism, and humorous journalism. Mr. Hutchens has assembled samples of the period’s most enduring work and samples of lesser writings which gave the twenties their characteristic flavor. He has been right, I think, in not trying to avoid material that is extremely well known and still in circulation. For what is most familiar in these pages is either distinguished or delightful, and it is a gain to have so many of these items brought together within the covers uf a single volume. To those born late enough for its contents to appear newly excavated antiques, Mr. Hutchens’s anthology should be a revelation of how much livelier the literary scene was in their parent’ youth.