ROBERT EMMETT CANTWELL (January 31, 1908 – December 8, 1978), known as Robert Cantwell, was a novelist and critic. His most notable work, The Land of Plenty, focuses on a lumber mill in a thinly disguised version of his hometown in Washington state .
* 1 Background * 2 Career * 3 Personal life and death
* 4 Impact
* 4.1 Literature * 4.2 Time Magazine * 4.3 Hiss Case
* 5 Works * 6 References * 7 External sources
Cantwell was born in Little Falls (now Vader ), Washington . His parents were Charles James Cantwell, an engineer, and Nina Adelia Hanson.
In 1919, the massacre during a strike in nearby Centralia, Washington , deeply disturbed him and left a lasting impression that appeared in his major writings.
Cover of Gorn (Furnace), official organ of
In 1929, after selling a short story "Hanging by My Thumbs" to The
New American Caravan , he moved (with help from childhood friend
Calvin Fixx ) to
New York City
Meantime, to support himself while writing, Cantwell took on regular-paying jobs. From November 1932 until its close in 1935, he worked as literary editor of New Outlook magazine. He also wrote for the New Masses under pen name "Robert Simmons."
On April 23, 1935 and through 1936, Cantwell joined the editorial
staff of Time as book reviewer. In 1937, he joined Time's sister
magazine, Fortune . In 1938, he returned to Time as associate editor
(1938−1945). In 1939, he helped his friend Chambers get his old job
as book reviewer. In 1940,
In 1941, Cantwell suffered a nervous breakdown. He took off work and received treatment at the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum . ) He spent three years researching and writing the biography, Nathaniel Hawthorne : The American Years (1948).
He worked for the magazine from 1956 until his death in 1978. He worked on a number of articles, three of which became books: Alexander Wilson : Naturalist and Pioneer (1961), The Real McCoy (1971), and The Hidden Northwest (1972). Subjects of his articles include chess, ornithology, sports in the movies and literary figures in sports.
PERSONAL LIFE AND DEATH
They shall not pass! Republican banner in Madrid during siege,
1936–39 - the
Spanish Civil War
Cantwell married Mary Elizabeth Chambers, a teacher, on February 2, 1931: she (no relation to Whittaker Chambers) was a cousin of Lyle Saxon , whom Fixx had been serving as secretary. They had three children: Joan McNiece (Mrs. George Stolz, Jr.), Betsy Ann (Mrs. Walter Pusey III), and Mary Elizabeth Emmett (Mrs. Lars-Erik Nelson ).
Upon publication of his first short story "Hanging by My Thumbs,"
Cantwell began to meet New York writers and editors like Edmund Wilson
In the 1930s, "after he settled in New York, Cantwell was always short of money and therefore generally in a rush to finish a piece and get paid... All the more remarkable, then, that his short stories are of such a generally high aesthetic quality."
Cantwell dismissed his radical affiliations of youth obliquely in later life, saying "I had no interest in politics" and no (public) political aspirations. Nevertheless, his circles in the 1930s a strong Leftist one that included Schapiro (Marxist), Cowley (Communist Party fellow traveller), Holmlund and Calvin Fixx (Communist Party members), and Chambers (Soviet spy). Further, his correspondence shows a strong interest, for example, in the CPUSA ticket for 1932 elections, which included William Z. Foster for president and James W. Ford for vice president. He also joined the League of Professional Writers for Foster and Ford . (Cantwell noted that he voted for Roosevelt so he would not "throw away" his vote.) Also in the Fall of 1932, he traveled to Washington, DC, with Cowley to cover the National Hunger March for The New Republic. Biographer Per Seyersted concluded, "That Cantwell did not use correct Marxist terminology would seem to indicate that he was no CP member, that however to the left he was and in sympathy with the Party's aims, he was an independent person doing his own thinking."
He died in 1978, aged 70, in a St. Luke's hospital n
New York City
In his obituary,
Bob Cantwell was with us during the last 22 years of his life, in which he wrote dozens of memorable articles, among them a portrayal of Cecil Smith, the Texas cowboy who became perhaps the greatest polo player the world has ever seen. When Cantwell wrote of Banjo Paterson, the virtually unknown author of Waltzing Matilda, he made sure that a colorful footnote to history was not going to be lost, at least not to SI readers. As he once said, "History is a natural resource, just as much as fossil fuel. It's what is there. We should not ignore it." Bob Cantwell was a unique intellectual resource and a friend. We shall miss him.
Cantwell's correspondence includes:
James T. Farrell , John Dos
Van Wyck Brooks ,
Erskine Caldwell ,
Ernest Hemingway considered Cantwell "his best bet" in American fiction.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
T. S. Matthews wrote, "Before I met him, I knew that he was reported to be the best book reviewer in New York; after only three book reviews, everybody admitted it."
Cantwell, his close colleagues, and many staff members as of the 1930s helped elevate TIME–"interstitial intellectuals," as historian Robert Vanderlan has called them. Colleague John Hersey described them as follows:
Time was in an interesting phase; an editor named Tom Matthews had
gathered a brilliant group of writers, including
James Agee , Robert
In October 1931, Cantwell attended a dinner party in honor of his
first novel, Laugh and Lie Down, where he met
When Chambers went into the Soviet underground in mid-1932, Cantwell knew; he declined to let Chambers use his home as a letter drop. In April 1934, Cantwell met Chambers' underground comrade, John Loomis Sherman , whom he knew as "Phillips." For the rest of his life, Cantwell would remain unclear about just how much he knew about or was involved in Chambers' underground activities. In May 1934, when Chambers started working with the Ware Group (according to Cantwell's papers), Cantwell accompanied him; about this time, Chambers let Cantwell know that he was using the alias "Lloyd Cantwell" in Baltimore. Biographer Seyersted notes that in his 1952 memoir Witness, Chambers may have changed dates for his first meetings in Washington for the Ware Group to June and later in order to protect Cantwell.
Cantwell helped get
The morning mail brought a letter from my friend, Robert Cantwell,
the author of Laugh and Lie Down, and later, the biographer of
Chambers had used the alias "Lloyd Cantwell" during his time in the Soviet underground, including the formation of the American Feature Writers Syndicate with comrade John Loomis Sherman (using the alias Charles Francis Chase) and literary agent Maxim Lieber . During the Hiss Case, Cantwell's name came up, and he found himself under FBI surveillance. When Chambers published his memoirs, Cantwell wrote a negative review.
Cantwell's mental breakdown in 1941 plus Chambers' use of his surname in the 1930s may well have led the Hiss defense team to conflate the two Cantwells and thus question Chambers' own sanity. ("Is he a man of sanity?" Hiss publicly questioned as early as August 25, 1948. )
In later years, Cantwell would express skepticism that Chambers even was in the underground; at others, he would express great fear of Soviet retribution (for Chambers' defection–and Cantwell's role in it?).
* "Hanging by My Thumbs" in The New American Caravan (1931) * Laugh and Lie Down (1931) * Land of Plenty (1934, 1971) * Nathaniel Hawthorne: The American Years (1948, 1971) * Famous American Men of Letters, illustrated by Gerald McCann (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1956) * Alexander Wilson: Naturalist and Pioneer: A Biography, decorated by Robert Ball (1961) * Real McCoy: The Life and Times of Norman Selby (1971) * Hidden Northwest (1972)
* The Humorous Side of
Erskine Caldwell anthology edited and
* Biography of
E. A. Filene with
Lincoln Steffens (1934)
* Autobiography of James B. McNamara , convicted labor dynamiter
* Small Boston, projected novel from the early 1970s
* The FBI, privacy, and Cantwell’s involvement with politics and
* Four Novelists on
* "What the Working Class Reads" in The New Republic (1935)
* "What the Working Class Reads" in The New Republic (1935)
* Articles for
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T Seyersted, Per (2004).
Robert Cantwell: An American 1930s Radical Writer and His Apostasy.
Oslo: Novus Press. pp. 12 (Centralia). ISBN 82-7099-397-2 .
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K Agapito, Aggie; Kihunrwa, Aika-Maria
(2004). "Guide to the