Title

The Literary Achievement of Esquire Magazine During the Great Depression

Date of Award

8-1-1975

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

Abstract

Although Esquire has been in publication for forty-one years, few attempts at serious critical evaluation of its merit as a popular culture magazine or its significance as a literary magazine have been made. Because it was a magazine which confronted the major political, moral, and aesthetic issues of the 1930's and because it established a new type of male entertainment magazine characterized by literary and sexual sophistication, such serious critical evaluation is crucial to an understanding of life and literature of the Great Depression.

For quantitative information I went to the magazine itself, reading every issue from 1933 through 1941. I corresponded with Arnold Gingrich, the editor of Esquire, and with many writers who were published in early Esquire, getting their .ews on the magazine and literature during the 1930's; I read the entire microfilmed correspondence of the magazine in the Esquire office in Chicago. Geraldine Ressor, the archivist in that office, informed me that I was the only person who had ever read the Esquire correspondence cf the 1930's.

My analysis of the magazine includes a description and critical assessment of its major genres: articles; short stories; critical reviews—movies, theatre, music, books, and popular culture; sports; semi-fiction; personalities; and poetry, as wall as a consideration of Arnold Gingrich as the editor and David Smart as the publisher.

My investigation of Esquire as a magazine of the Great Depression led me to consider a variety of influences on Esquire and of Esquire on the society: the Spanish Civil War, the Catholic church, the United States Post Office, the Eastern Magazine Establishment, men's fashions, Hollywood, jazz, popular culture, t.»e Hemingway- Fit zgerald-Dos Passos era, sports, art, journalism, and literature.

It became clear that the phenomenon of Esquire could not be understood in isolation from the personalities and interrelationships of the people involved with its publication, and that its place in American letters could not be ascertained without an understanding of the culture of the time. My dissertation attempts to be an elucidation of these overlapping and sometimes contradictory factors.

This elucidation resulted in my conclusion that Esquire is indeed significant as a unique social, psychological, and literary event.

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