An Excerpt from Joseph Freeman's An American Testament
from An American Testament by novelist and
apparatchik Joseph Freeman (1936)
Reconciliation to the city is only a prelude to our transformation. The conflict of cultures grows more acute as we develop new interests and language itself becomes the symbol and index of the conflict. At home we spoke Yiddish; in the street a form of American with a marked foreign accent, a singsong rhythm . . . ; in school we read and recited an English so pure, so lofty, so poetic that it seemed to bear no relation to the language of the street. Literature was the enemy of the street until years later, when postwar fiction and poetry gave the language of the street the dignity of art, when Joyce and Hemingway replaced Longfellow and Whittier.
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