Morris Dickstein has written a history of the Great Depression through the arts of that period. The thirties ushered in a national culture, for the first time, because of the advent of radio, records, and movies. The books we read, poetry we recited, movies, photographs, design, and art we saw, the music we heard, sang, and danced to are recalled and cast in a new light. Dickstein deals with race and proletarian literature and escapist entertainment. Dancing in the Dark, as seen through Rogers and Astaire, was our effort to “assert a life-saving grace, unity and style against the encroaching darkness.” The need for collective energy created a sense of public purpose that took people past themselves. That desire can be felt in unlikely places, such as the movie The Wizard of Oz: the isolated and lonely Dorothy learns she can get home only by working with others. This period is one of the few in American history when collective action superseded individualism.
Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression - Morris Dickstein
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 6th, 2010