BOOKS: No Foolish Consistency

Critic Dwight Macdonald was a brilliant, changeable gadfly

In a lifetime of combative journalism, Dwight Macdonald wrote too much and sometimes too carelessly, left many projects half finished and was variously a Trotskyite, a socialist, a pacifist, an anarchist and an aging camp follower of the student lefties of '68. Yet despite his lack of discipline and consistency, many of his essays remain classics: consider his merciless dissection of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Reading that often tin-eared update of the beloved King James, Macdonald wrote, "is like walking through an old city that has just been given, if not a saturation bombing, a thorough going-over." As...

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