Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0020641, Tue, 31 Aug 2010 21:15:55 -0400

SIGHTINGS: Botkin had a mad, beautiful vision

In this week's _New Yorker_, "The Uprooted: Chronicling the Great Migration" by Jill Lepore:

"[...] At its peak, the W.P.A.’s Federal Writers’ Project employed more than six thousand writers—from newspaper reporters to playwrights, anybody who used to make some kind of living by writing and couldn’t anymore—including Saul Bellow, Zora Neale Hurston, John Cheever, and Richard Wright. (At the time, one in four people in publishing was out of work.) It was mired in bureaucracy and inefficiency, you had to take a pauper’s oath to get hired, and the whole thing was axed, four years after it got started, by people in Congress who were convinced it was a Communist front. But, before that, Ellison and all those thousands of other writers chronicled American life by interviewing ordinary people.
"They also reinvented the interview and changed American journalism forever. The project’s folklore editor, Benjamin Botkin, had a mad, beautiful vision. He wanted to turn 'the streets, the stockyards, and the hiring halls into literature.' From more than ten thousand interviews, the Writers’ Project produced some eight hundred books, including 'A Treasury of American Folklore' and, in 1939, a volume called 'These Are Our Lives.'

offtopic? perhaps ...

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