The Scarlet Professor: Newton Arvin: A Literary Life Shattered by Scandal

The Scarlet Professor Newton Arvin A Literary Life Shattered by Scandal During his thirty seven years at Smith College Newton Arvin published groundbreaking studies of Hawthorne Whitman Melville and Longfellow that stand today as models of scholarship and psychologica

  • Title: The Scarlet Professor: Newton Arvin: A Literary Life Shattered by Scandal
  • Author: Barry Werth
  • ISBN: 9780385494694
  • Page: 457
  • Format: Paperback
  • During his thirty seven years at Smith College, Newton Arvin published groundbreaking studies of Hawthorne, Whitman, Melville, and Longfellow that stand today as models of scholarship and psychological acuity He cultivated friendships with the likes of Edmund Wilson and Lillian Hellman and became mentor to Truman Capote A social radical and closeted homosexual, the circuDuring his thirty seven years at Smith College, Newton Arvin published groundbreaking studies of Hawthorne, Whitman, Melville, and Longfellow that stand today as models of scholarship and psychological acuity He cultivated friendships with the likes of Edmund Wilson and Lillian Hellman and became mentor to Truman Capote A social radical and closeted homosexual, the circumspect Arvin nevertheless survived McCarthyism But in September 1960 his apartment was raided, and his cache of beefcake erotica was confiscated, plunging him into confusion and despair and provoking his panicked betrayal of several friends.An utterly absorbing chronicle, The Scarlet Professor deftly captures the essence of a conflicted man and offers a provocative and unsettling look at American moral fanaticism.

    One thought on “The Scarlet Professor: Newton Arvin: A Literary Life Shattered by Scandal”

    1. Newton Arvin, though a central figure in the early days of American literary studies, is not important enough or interesting enough to warrant a full-scale biography based solely on his accomplishments as a scholar and long-time professor at Smith College. Therefore, it is Arvin's life as a closeted homosexual and the scandal that ignominiously outed him that give this book its raison d'ĂȘtre. While Arvin himself is not always a sympathetic figure (when arrested, he was quick to try to save hims [...]

    2. For much of his life, Newton Arvin (born in 1900) was a respected literary critic and award-winning author. But Arvin lived a tortured and repressed existence. His greatest fear was that the public would find out about his homosexual desires. His career as a professor at Smith college, where he had taught for almost 40 years, came to an end when the police raided his apartment and found a stash of pornography (really not much more than a collection of muscle magazines). The injustices commited a [...]

    3. I picked this book up after reading Arvin's classic bio of Herman Melville (which is itself worth checking out). Werth's treatment of the tale is reminiscent of the genre of non fiction I like to call "The Expanded New Yorker Article". That's fine, I love the New Yorker, but the weakness endemic to the genre is the feeling that 150 pages would suffice (and you're reading a three hundred page book). Regardless, I read the whole book and don't regret it. Werth's treatment of Arvin's tortured feeli [...]

    4. The Literary World revisitedThis book was given to me as a gift so I felt an urge to read it right away. It was a B+. It's about the literary life of Newton Arvin who was shattered by a scandal in 1960. I was born in 1959 so it was interesting to me to read of what was going on at the time. It ventures into the closeted homosexual literary elite. This book gave me other book ideas that I really want to read like: The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne, Letters & Leadership by Van Wyck Brooks, Roder [...]

    5. Just finished reading Barry Werth's The Scarlett Professor: Newton Arvin a Life Shattered by Scandal (New York: Nan A. Talese, 2001). At the same time I picked up the only book on Yaddo in the TPL system, Micki McGee's, Yaddo: Making American Culture (New York: The New York Public Library & Columbia University Press, 2008). The Yaddo book, an edited collection based on an exhibition at the New York Public Library includes a collection of essays about Yaddo and some of the luminaries who resi [...]

    6. It's fitting that I finished reading this book on a day when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision and a non-decision that advanced LGBTQ rights in the U.S.A. If you have moments of thinking that the United States has not progressed much over the last 50 to 100 years, this book will remind you of just how much some things here have progressed. It is a depressing account of a brilliant and talented scholar and critic whose life was in many ways ruined by the closet and by the idiotic discrimin [...]

    7. This was a great read, I had never heard of Newton Arvin before reading this and I can't say since reading it I've become a fan of his work - literary criticism isn't the lightest of reading - but it is his story that is interesting. The heart of this book is describing the lengths some will go to destroy what they fear is a "threat" to their society. The Pink Scare, as Werth puts it, followed on the heels of the Red Scare and sought to identify and persecute homosexuals in the the 1950s. Arvin [...]

    8. This a very sad tale about a literary critic genius who is gay and cannot come to terms with this and whose times, the first half of the twentieth century cannot come to terms with homosexuality. For his first forty years he does not recognize the issue. Once he does he ends up in psychiatric hospitals having electro shock therapy. In his later years he is arrested for possession of pornography. It makes up pause and wonder how far we have come from those times in the not so distant past. If the [...]

    9. Four stars for the quality, though not a 'fun' read. Even before the historically important tragedy and injustice of Newton Arvin, Ned Spofford, and Joel Dorius', amongst others, arrest and downfall over privately owned gay erotica and porn, Arvin was a consistently self-tormenting guy. I am curious to read, and would have liked in the biography itself, more of Arvin's own work. For all of his self loathing, Arvin was at his peak one of the premiere American lit critics and biographers of Melvil [...]

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