“Few people even scratch the surface, much less exhaust the contemplation of their own experience. “ – Randolph Bourne
Bourne, a progressive writer and intellectual born on this date in 1886, is best known for his anti-war essays, especially his unfinished work "The State," discovered after his death in 1918. Harmed by a forceps birth that left him with facial and back deformities, he was susceptible to debilitating diseases, perhaps hastening his death during the Spanish Flu pandemic.
Bourne graduated from Columbia University and immediately embarked on “…a literary career of startling brilliancy,” said Floyd Dell of The New Republic, a regular publisher of Bourne’s essays. His writings have been influential in shaping postmodern ideas of cosmopolitanism and multiculturalism.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Dos Passos eulogized Bourne in 1919, part of his prize-winning U.S.A. trilogy. And, the Randolph Bourne Institute, which has access to many of his works, seeks to honor Bourne's memory by promoting a noninterventionist foreign policy for the United States as the best way of fostering a peaceful, more prosperous world.
Bourne was known for a generous spirit and ability to form lasting friendships, even with those with whom he disagreed. “Friendships,” he said, “are fragile things, and require as much handling as any other fragile and precious thing.”
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