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Dada in Hollywood

Dada in Hollywood

Nathanael West’s Human Machines

(p.113) 4 Dada in Hollywood
The Freak-garde
Robin Blyn
University of Minnesota Press

This chapter considers the novels of Nathanael West within the crucial context of a crisis in revolutionary philosophy specific to the United States. It discusses the notion of the Left’s recognition that a revolution of the proletariat in the United States was neither the inevitable result of the Great Depression nor hastened by the rise of fascism. It suggests that the left was forced to grapple with the problem of transforming the idea of liberal capitalism into a revolution. It argues that West’s novels are part of a larger conversation into a subject of revolution; highlights the novels A Cool Million and The Day of the Locust; and contends that they reject humanism altogether, thus making machines out of persons.

Keywords:   Nathanael West, revolutionary philosophy, United States, liberal capitalism, A Cool Million, The Day of the Locust, humanism

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