[Discussion of "Is the Comman Man Too Common?"]

Friday, November 20, 1953

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Seldes recommends 19/20 of the book "Is the Common Man Too Common?" He also discusses his own book, "The Seven Lively Arts." He notes his key argument, that you have to separate the thing from the frame in which it appears. This is his argument for the popular arts - such as comic strips - be counted among the arts.
He does not include the horror books among the lively arts. Winston Churchill is preparing to tackle these books. Seldes hopes the British versions are not as bad as the American ones. Seldes makes reference to Mayor La Guardia reading the comics over the radio during the newspaper strike. He delights in the idea of Churchill reading the comic horror books.

He goes on to discuss cinemas in New York and across the country that play old movies, such as "The Navigator" with Buster Keaton. Seldes was particularly amused by the scene of Keaton trying to shuffle cards while the boat floods.

Seldes goes on to praise comedienne Judy Holiday.

He describes the plot of the play "Mortal Coils" based on the The Gioconda Smile by Aldous Huxley. Seldes disagrees with the happy ending in the play. He also speaks on the main actress of the play, Dorothy McGuire.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 71542
Municipal archives id: LT3118

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes


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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.


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