against the thickening of the empire,” in Robert Hass’srnphrase—had prescience, which we often confuse with pessimism.rnAs early as 1943 he predicted:rn’Iwo bloody summers from now (I suppose) wc shallrnhavernto take up the corrupting burden and curse of victory.rnWe shall have to hold half the earth; we shall be sickrnwith self-disgust,rnAnd hated by friend and foe, and hold half the earth—rnor let it go, and go down with it. Here is a burdenrnWe are not fit for. We are not like Romans andrnBritons—natural worid-rulers.rnBullies bv instinct—but we have to bear it. Who hasrnkissed Fate on the mouth, and blown out the lamp—rnmust lie with her.rnFor his prc’ision and refusal to jettison his anachronistic beliefs,rnJeffers “put his signature on a death warrant,” William Evcrsonrnhas written. Critics who one year earlier had lauded Jeffers’rnadaptation of Medea as a major achievement in American dramarnnow spat upon the pariah. A “necrophilic nightmare!”rnTime kecked at The Double Axe. Jeffers’ eclipse was as completernas Sarovan’s—though, happily, a later generation of naturalistsrnreived the man who loved avian hawks and detested the humanrnkind.rnThe antiwar writers were not, in the main, pacifists. I’hevrnwere American patriots who understood that war and thernresultant empire would bury the American Republic and corruptrnthe American people. This was true even of the pedigreedrnconscientious objector Robert Lowell. The Great Descendantrnhad an endearing New England proprietary patriotism.rnLike a true Brahmin, he sent President Roosevelt a “Declarationrnof Personal Responsibility,” which explained that “in 1943rnwc arc collaborating with the most unscrupulous and powerfulrnof totalitarian dictators to destroy law, freedom, democracy, andrnabove all, our continued national sovereignty.” A Massachusettsrneccentric and hater of cant, Lowell would have nornpart of a crusade-in-arms with Stalin. The poet won a stint behindrnthe metal of honor for his resistance. (Twenty-five yearsrnlater Lowell accompanied one of the last of the American republicans.rnSenator Eugene McCarthy, on his suicidal challengernto the Democratic establishment. The painfully earnest youngrnliberals who surrounded McCarthv regarded Lowell as a debilitatingrndistraction: in Lowell’s company, the candidaternwould joke and drink and compose irreverent doggerel and actrnaltogether human and unworthy of ADA support.)rnDespite the widespread anti-FDR sentiment one findsrnamong American writers, disappointingly few novelists wroternexplicitly political books about the ways in which the NewrnDeal and the Good War were changing America. John DosrnPassos contributed a diffuse novel, The Grand Design (1949),rnwhich follows two well-meaning mid-level New Dealers fromrnthe First One 1 lundred Days to the onset of war as they try “tornmake America over from Portland, Oregon, to Brownsville onrnthe Rio Grande.”rnI lalfway through the novel Dos Passos abandons his storyrnand runs off to scrawl placards denouncing manipulative communistsrnwho dupe lonely single career gals into spilling state secrets.rnThis is the dreary internal world of someone who has satrntlirough way too many sectarian left taffy-pulls. If only he hadrnbeen indifferent to the Spanish Civil War, as most good Americansrnwere, he would not have cluttered his books with such urgentrnsloganeering, and we would be more convinced when DosrnPassos concludes The Grand Design with this adjuration:rnwe must learnrnto found againrnin freedomrnour republic.rnDos Passos’ friend Edmund Wilson thought The Grand Designrna decent novel that was poorly received because it “shockedrnpeople as blasphemy against the Great White Father.” DosrnPassos was a good amateur historian who understood whatrnwas up in his changing country, and the knowledge accountsrnfor the miry funk into yvhich his midcentury fiction fell. Wilson,rntoo, kenned our predicament, which is yvhy he, almostrnalone among major critics, paid respectful attention to Dos Passos’rn”right-wing” novels.rnFhe amiable dispute between these two old pals tells usrnmuch about the crazy skew of American politics. They agreedrnon almost all the big issues: but for the lack of italicized prosernpoetry, Wilson’s ‘The Cold War and the Income Tax (1963)rncould be taken for a terser Dos Passos in a foul mood. Alas, thernwhite noise of the left-right din deafened them to the harmonyrnof their views, and they quarreled over trifling matters suchrnas Dos Passos’ ardor for Barry Goldwater, which Wilson calledrn”too giriish for words.”rnMore effective than Dos Passos at limning the ways in whichrnAmerica had been remade was John P. Marquand, who by 1941rnhad adopted a public pose of political ambiguity, thus avoidingrn—partly—the calumny heaped upon more forthright isolationists.rnMrs. Adelaide Marquand was the America Firster,rnand while her husband was sympathetic he didn’t need arnweatherman to tell him which way the wind blew. John P. toldrna friend in 1939 that the monies raised at his Har’ard class reunionrnshould be put to “keeping America out of the Europeanrnwar,” but a year later he was throwing up his hands: “I find myselfrnin the uncomfortable position of not being able to decidernwhat the United States ought to do in this war.” He permittedrnthe America First Committee to hold dinners at his apartment,rnwhere he hobnobbed with Norman Thomas and Charles Lindbergh,rnbut he assured his interventionist friends, “Don’t botherrnabout Adelaide’s America First stuff—an activity with yvhichrnI have never been wholly in sympathy, and less now than everrnbefore.” Marquand straddled the fence, a good Republican, arn”non-New Dealer” who insisted, “There has never been any isolationistrnsentiment to speak of… among those who are in thernNew England tradition.”rnBut his skillful novels make plain the author’s sympathies. SornLittle Time, published in 1943, is a requiem for the old Amer-rnDECEMBER 1993/19rnrnrn