Tweedy & Suburban

The New Yorker, it isn’t much of a stretch to say, is very Jewish.

David Remnick, a regular contributor to that publication has a nostalgic piece about the magazine’s early years.

Within it, you get recollections like this:

Political and foreign reporting had become a great deal more serious during the Second World War, and there was no going back to the wide-eyed, we-are-confused-little-men fripperies of the bygone world. Reading the best of it here, you get an uncanny sense of writers coming to grips with issues and maps that are with us today. A.J. Liebling in Gaza and Janet Flanner in Algeria confront the emerging Middle East; Joseph Wechsberg in Berlin and Emily Hahn in China draw the fault lines of the Cold War. Bernard Taper’s travels with Thurgood Marshall, in his days with the NAACP, is an early look at the civil-rights movement. And Richard Rovere, a Communist who, as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, had become an anti-Communist liberal, covered Washington as an outsider living in Rhinebeck, New York. His running portrayal of the malign phenomenon of Joseph McCarthy was some of the most impressive political coverage that the magazine had yet produced.

Well, I think they met the Jewish quota for foreign reporting.

Now, if there’s one anachronism to The New Yorker’s history, it’s the relatively esteemed seat they gave to their token WASP, John Updike.

Some Jewish writers (not just in non-fiction reporting but in literature ala Saul Bellow) have no problem saying the word ‘gentile’ or even ‘goyim’, or otherwise making a clear distinction between Jewish sensibilities and non-Jewish sensibilities. Other Jewish writers use ‘dog whistle’ words:

The 50s saw the rise of one such talent in particular, John Updike, who, for the next 55 years, was an unfailingly prolific and versatile contributor to The New Yorker. His fine-grained prose was there from the start, and, with time, his sharp-eyed intelligence alighted on seemingly every surface, subject, and subtext. Updike was, out of the box, an American writer of the first rank. He was profoundly at home at The New Yorker and, at the same time, able to expand the boundaries of its readers’ tastes. He could seem tweedy and suburban—a modern, golf-playing squire…

Tweedy and suburban.

It sounds like a traveling comedy act.

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