Published Humanitas, Volume XII, No. 2, 1999

The Critical Legacy of Irving Babbitt, by George A. Panichas. Wilmington, Delaware: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1999. 235 pp. $24.95.

I have seen only three portraits of Irving Babbitt. The first was the photograph reproduced in the 1979 Liberty Press edition of Democracy and Leadership, which I first saw in a Swedish Encyclopaedia. This, I imagined, was of Babbitt the vigorous scholar in mid-career. The second portrait was the one on the cover of Irving Babbitt in Our Time, edited by George Panichas and Claes G. Ryn in 1986. Here was the senior scholar, with the authority, dignity and elegance of an urbane patrician. The third portrait, one which I had never seen before, is the photograph in this new book by Panichas. It shows the tired, although in no way broken, old fighter, probably in ill health.

Babbitt always had to fight. The course which he embraced as a young man, and to which he stuck with an impressive and uncompromising tenacity, quickly brought him into conflict with representatives of most of the major trends of his age.

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