In 1930 Macolm Cowley wrote a letter to the editors of The New Republic—he was one of those editors. He used the pseudonym Walter S. Hankel. Heretofore unattributed to Cowley, the letter offers insight into Cowley's view of modernism, specifically the split between what he called the religion of art and his own sense of a writer's responsibility. It is easy to dismiss the Dada group as silly or frivolous; however, the Cowley-alias-Hankel letter illustrates the social engagement evident in Cowley's somewhat silly “significant gestures.”
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