AND I WORKED AT THE WRITER'S TRADE by Malcolm Cowley
Viking; 276 pages; $12.50
"Deponent states: My name is Malcolm Cowley and I am by profession a literary historian."
That introduction suggests a chalky professor lamenting the decline of English since the invention of the cathode-ray tube. In fact, the author is also a lively raconteur, poet (Blue Juniata), critic (A Second Flowering) and living history of the liberal temper. At 79 he is older than the century, and wiser. He has witnessed the failure of his early radicalism and watched favorite writers fall into neglect and obscurity. Yet, almost alone of his...