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October 22: The Homophobic Mike Gold

October 22, 2013
250px-Gold-michaelNovelist Mike Gold (Itzok Granich) caused big ripples in the U.S. literary circles by publishing a savage, homophobic attack on the writings of Thornton Wilder in The New Republic on this date in 1930. Gold had just published his best-selling Jews Without Money, while Wilder had just published his third novel, The Woman of Andros (after receiving a Pulitzer Prize, the first of his three Pulitzers, for his second novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey). Gold attacked the new work as “a pastel, pastiche, dilettante religion . . . a daydream of homosexual figures in graceful gowns moving archaically among the lilies. . . . Let Mr. Wilder write a book about modern America. We predict it will reveal all his fundamental silliness and superficiality, now hidden under a Greek chlamys.” Gold, a founder of New Masses, was by 1930 the unofficial literary commissar of the American Communist Party, while Wilder was a closeted gay man (to whom Sigmund Freud sought to marry off his lesbian daughter, Anna, and whom Gertrude Stein introduced to his long-time lover, Samuel Steward). Also in 1930, Gold described Marcel Proust as “the worst example and the best of what we do not want . . . the . . . master-masturbator of the bourgeois literature,” while of Gertrude Stein, he said, “The literary idiocy of Gertrude Stein only reflects the madness of the whole system of capitalist values.” Nevertheless, numerous gay writers and literary critics (mostly closeted) were embraced in Communist circles, including Langston Hughes, Newton Arvin, William Rollins, Jr., and Robert Hayden, among others. “Go tell Mike Gold, Ernest Hemingway says he should go fuck himself.” —Ernest Hemingway JEWDAYO ROCKS! Leslie West (Weinstein), lead guitarist of Mountain, was born in New York on this date in 1945. To see him performing his hit, “Mississippi Queen,” look below.