Hicks, Granville, 1901-1982Alternative names
Hicks was a literary critic, novelist and teacher (1901-1982). He graduated from Harvard University, studied for the ministry and joined the Communist Party in 1934. He was the literary editor of the New masses and applied Marxist criticism to American literature in his writings. He broke with the Party in 1939 and in the 1950s testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities against the Party. Arvin (1900-1963) was also educated at Harvard University and taught at Smith College from 1922-1960. Arvin specialized in 19th century American literature. The correspondence between Hicks and Arvin reveal the personal relationship between the two men, as well as their professional interests.
From the description of Granville Hicks correspondence with Newton Arvin, 1928-1963. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 53318426
Granville Hicks (1901-1982) was an American Marxist and later anti-Marxist novelist, literary critic, educator, and editor.
Born September 9, 1901, in Exeter, NH, to Frank Stevens and Carrie Weston (Horne) Hicks, Granville Hicks earned his bachelor's degree at Harvard University in 1923, and a Master's in 1929. He also studied for two years at Harvard Theological School. In 1925 he married Dorothy Dyer, with whom he had a daughter, Stephanie.
From 1925-1928 Hicks taught at Smith College in Northampton, MA as an instructor in biblical literature. He was an assistant professor of English at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1929-35) and a counselor in American civilization at Harvard (1938-39). For three years (1955-1958) he taught novel writing at the New School for Social Research in New York. He was a visiting professor at New York University (1959), Syracuse University (1960), and Ohio University (1967-68). He was the director of the Yaddo artists' community beginning in 1942 and later served as its acting executive director. For 35 years (1930-1965) he was the literary advisor to Macmillan Publishers.
Hicks was a highly influential Marxist literary critic during the 1930s, well-known for his involvement in a number of celebrated causes (including his well-publicized resignation from the Communist Party in 1939). He established his reputation as an important literary critic with the 1933 publication of The Great Tradition: An Interpretation of American Literature since the Civil War, a systematic history of American literature from a Marxist perspective. In 1932 he voted for the Communist Party ticket and joined almost all the significant Communist party front groups of the 1930s. In 1934 Hicks joined the Communist Party itself and became editor of its cultural magazine The New Masses .
In 1935 Hicks was let go from his teaching position at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a dismissal he claimed was politically motivated although school officials denied this. He continued to teach at various institutions but devoted more and more of his time to writing. In 1936 Hicks was asked to co-write John Reed: The Making of a Revolutionary, a biography of the radical journalist and author of Ten Days that Shook the World . Communist Party chairman Earl Browder pressured Hicks to remove several passages that reflected negatively on the Soviet Union, but in the end the book was praised for its even-handed and unbiased presentation.
In 1939, in protest against the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact, Hicks resigned from the Communist Party. He attempted to organize an independent left-wing alternative organization, but with little success. By 1940 he had entirely renounced Communism and termed himself a democratic socialist; that same year he wrote an essay for The Nation entitled, "The Blind Alley of Marxism." During the 1950s Hicks testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee twice, and in 1954 in his essay titled "The Liberals Who Haven't Learned," he "unambiguously characterized the aim of communism as 'brutal revolutionary totalitarianism,' and chided liberals for providing a 'verbal cloak of "social betterment"' for the Soviets."
Hicks died June 18, 1982, in Franklin Park, NJ. By the time of his death, his early radical/Marxist writings were balanced by his later turn to a broader, more humanistic criticism.
From the guide to the Granville Hicks Papers, 1906-1980, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)
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|Literature--History and criticism|
|Communism and education|
|Publishers and Publishing|
|City and town life--United States|
|American literature--20th century--History and criticism|
|Communism and intellectuals|