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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The force and beauty of the process

It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance, and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.” – Max Eastman

An American writer on literature, philosophy and society, and a poet, memoirist and prominent political activist, Eastman was born on this date in 1883.  A native New Yorker, he started his writing as an essayist on individual rights and causes.   In 1919, he and his younger sister Crystal (who was among the founders of the American Civil Liberties Union) started the magazine The Liberator.   Their magazine not only took on many causes, including Women’s Rights and Suffrage, but also published up-and-coming young writers like E. E. Cummings, John Dos Passos, and Ernest Hemingway.   

A prolific writer himself, Eastman authored 20 nonfiction books on subjects as diverse as the scientific method, humor, and psychology. He also wrote 5 volumes of poetry and a novel.  In 1941, he was hired as a roving editor for Reader's Digest, a position he held until his death in 1969.    Among his books were memoirs and recollections of his noted friendships with leading actors, politicos and athletes, including humorists like Charlie Chaplain and Mark Twain, who he admired both for their work and their use of humor.
“Laughter is, after speech, the chief thing                                
 that holds society together,” he wrote.  “A smile is the universal welcome.”

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