used the creed to destroy a system thatnthey hated.nDespite the changes in American societynand the turmoil of the past, Huntingtonnis optimistic that the creed will surviven. But will it suffice for a future of limitednresources, excessive population, andnforeign threat? Huntington perhaps toonflippantly dismisses Willmore Kendall’snsuggestion that, given the built-in disaepancynbetween the creed and the existential,nthe 17th- and 18th-century ideasnmust be discarded. Perhaps Kendall’snposition might be modified: the creed isntaught and learned, hence there is thenpossibility of flexibility.nxVttempts to explain the Americannexperience will and should continue.nPassage to More than IndianRaymond Nelson: Van Wyck Brooks: AnWriter’s Life; E.P. Button; New York.nby Joseph SchwartznWhile reading Raymond Nelson’snserviceable, competent biography of VannWyck Brooks, I had occasion to consultnmy personal library to check particularnpassages in his work on American literature.nRather to my surprise, I discoverednI owned a good deal more of his worknthan I had remembered. From the datesnpenned on inside covers it appears that Inacquired my collection over a longishnperiod of time—a hardcover or two fromnthe early 40’s, most from the late 40’snwhen I was in graduate school, some afternthat for a quarter or so from the SalvationnArmy, Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paulnstores, none after I960. Although StanleynEdgar Hyman said in 1948 (ThenArmed Vision) that no one connectednwith literature had taken Brooks seriouslynfor almost a decade, those of us then atnMadison did. The University of Wiscon-nDr. Schwartz edits Renascence, a literarynquarterly.nSOinChronicles of CulturenWhat is the meaning of the American experience?nIs it an exception? Is it unique?nHow does it fit into European and worldnhistory? What can the past tell us aboutnthe future? Have we a future? About allnof these questions Huntington hasnthought deeply and argues persuasively.nHe both builds upon and dissents fromnthe conventional wisdom. His work meritsnconsideration, but it is best read withnsome supplementary studies that placenrecent events in a somewhat differentnperspective: Paul Hollander’s PoliticalnPilgrims, Eric Voegelin’s5a’^«c^, Politicsnand Gnosticism and Daniel Bell’s ThenCultural Contradictions of Capitalismnwould not detract from but rather supplementnHuntington’s “promise of disharmony.n” nnsin was, in the late 40’s, the great centernfor the study of American literature innthe United States, and its distinguishednprofessors took Brooks very seriously indeed.nAlmost every professor I knew wasnan historian of literature for whichnBrooks was the nearly perfect model.nWhen the “other” Brooks (Cleanth) wasninvited to campus to talk about the newnaiticism a minor tempest arose. HowardnMumford Jones was asked to be on thensame program just to keep the meetingnhonest. The union theater was filled toncapacity, the smell of confrontation havingndrawn students. I remember onlynone member of the department who, afterward,nwas willing to allow thatnCleanth Brooks had much to offer; Jonesnwas generally regarded as having savednthe meeting. Such were the battles thatnwe in our innocence then fought.nFor those concerned with Americannliterature, a small minority then. VannWyck Brooks was important. In his innocentnradicalism he was discovering, orninventing, what he called with inadvertentnarrogance a “usable past” for Americannliterature; His method was in largenpart the method of history, not litera­nnnture. All literary works were roughly ofnequal importance; each was a datum innthe reconstruction of the past; each wasnan equally significant part of one index tonour culture. I do not overstate the casenwhen I say that Oliver W. Holmes wasngiven more attention than NathanielnHawthorne and that Jefferson receivednmore attention than Edward Taylor. It isninstmctive now to review the volumes innthe American Authors Series (AmericannBook Company) which had such powerfulninfluence then, especially the one ofnPoe, for instance, who was admitted intonthe canon only after it could be shownnthat he, too, had extraliterary significancen(political, social, scientific). Ournprofessors were historical and “scientific”nwith a vengeance, and we were beingntrained to be like them. We did not thinknit outrageous, as I do now, that Brooksnhad read some 900 original works innpreparation for the writing of ThenFlowering of New England. I can recallnmy admiration for the wealth of materialnit contained and the unusual approach itnsometimes took. It was a time that simplynhad to produce The Literary History ofnthe United States, and it did.nBy way of taking a poll, I spent a weeknasking graduate students in my presentnDepartment of English if they knew ofnVan Wyck Brooks. Only three did, andnnone was able to give me the name of hisnmagnum opus, Makers and Finders. Henwas one of the most influential aitics ofnhis time, winner of the Dial Prize inn1923, the National Institute of Arts andnLetters Gold Medal in 1946 and manynother honors in between and after. EdmundnWilson called him America’s premiernliterary historian; Carl Van Dorenndescribed Makers and Finders as the bestnliterary history in any language. Sic transitngloria mundi. While Nelson himselfndoes not deal with why the transit ^2S sonrapid, he provides one with the informationnand impetus to pursue that subject.nrSrooks was a leftist idealist and a socialist.nHe joined the Socialist Party inn1916 and was a Socialist candidate for officenin 1936. Although the group he rep-n