August 21st, 2007

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Sixties Novels, Part 34

GORE AND IGOR, Meyer Levin, Simon and Schuster, 1967.

(I'm using the image from the hardcover first edition here, but the paperback cover on Wikipedia is groovy enough to deserve a look as well.)

The writer here is hardly an unknown, as his Wikipedia entry will attest.

This book allows us to talk about one salient strain of the Sixties that I do not believe we have yet mentioned in the previous 33 entries:

The Cold War!

How that global conflict contoured the whole era! The Sixties are unthinkable without it. And like most overwhelming and scary things, it became the object of humor, as in Levin's novel, which follows the comedic antics of "Gore the California boy [and] Igor the toast of Moscow--both poetniks [sic], peaceniks, loverniks [double sic]...."

How many movies and novels and TV shows there once were, exploiting the image of the bumptious, boastful, backwards, oppressed Soviets! Deborah and I just watched Garbo's NINOTCHKA (1939), and the imagery is cast in concrete that far back.

Of course, post-1989, Cold War humor instantly became obsolete and passe and inexplicable to a new generation on either side of the Iron Curtain.

Have pity on poor Yakov Smirnoff for a moment.

Posted by Paul DiFi.

[Note: the initial posting of this entry contained a pointer to the homepage of a different Meyer Levin. That mistaken URL has been removed.]