[President Eisenhower's bookburning speech]

Tuesday, June 16, 1953

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

Seldes discusses the letters that arrived for him while he was out of town. The letters have been locked away, so he hasn't read them yet. He's not sure if people like his program or not. He is concerned by the contents of the letters. He will read them and be guided by them. He knows he talked too quickly on the last episode. Promise to reform.

President Eisenhower's speech, given at Dartmouth, about book burning. His first reaction to the speech was to Dashiel Hammett's "Maltese Falcon." Hammett is guilty of inspiring the work of Mickey Spillane. He took the detective story away from the British, raised the level of American detective story writing.

Repeats Eisenhower's words: don't join the book burners. Don't be afraid to go to the library and read every book.

Mussolini banned detective stories because they were bourgeois and democratic.

He is against any use of books that doesn't bring in royalties.

"The Great Issues" course for seniors in Brooklyn.

Another section of Eisenhower's speech, when he quotes Julius Caesar. Seldes talks about the movie version of Julius Caesar, going to see it when the audio track went out.

A reproduction of a poster: Even a child knows that you should go and vote. More and more children are being used in advertising.

Last night's Ford show. Everything had been reduced to making the road entertainment only.

For more on Gilbert Seldes and this broadcast see:

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 8362

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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