chapter
9 Pages

Introduction: Pessimistic Progressives

This book is about how “nature” got in the way, impeded the otherwise progressive, well-intentioned work of the New Deal, and those whose politics harmonized with it. It is not a work of history as such, or even of cultural history, but of literary criticism. Under close analysis here is New Deal writing, from inter-offi ce memos to the novels of John Steinbeck, not missing out those heavy voice-overs and captions that so overlaid the otherwise visual media, the documentary fi lms and stills sponsored by the New Deal Resettlement Administration to promote its progressive interventions into the rural economy.