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What Happened in the Fifties

In response to:

What Happened in the Sixties? from the August 4, 1977 issue

To the Editors:

Mark Crispin Miller (“What Happened in the Sixties,” NYR, August 4) is inaccurate in citing Flannery O’Connor as an example of a Fifties’ writer whose pages are undarkened by any memory of the death camps. Her long story “The Displaced Person” (in A Good Man Is Hard to Find, 1955) makes explicit reference to the death camps (e.g., “Mrs. Shortley recalled a newsreel she had seen once of a small room piled high with bodies of dead naked people all in a heap…”) and remembers them implicitly throughout.

Robert C. McKibben

Portland, Maine

Mark Crispin Miller replies:

Mr. McKibben is quite right. The fact remains, however, that Flannery O’Connor is one of many writers of the Fifties for whom “the memory of the still vivid death camps” was not of oppressive consequence. The atomic bomb and the Final Solution did not cast a heavy pall over the whole of America throughout that decade, as Dickstein would have us believe.

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