Shortly before his death in 1933, John Henry Mackay summed up his life and work in his final book, Summing Up--here in English for the first time with annotations by the translator, Hubert Kennedy. Mackay insisted that this book is not an autobiography or a memoirs--but it is the closest he came to either. In it he looks back on a long life of successes and--alas--mostly failures. But he has no regrets, for he remained true to himself and his early-gained vision of individualist anarchism. Although Mackay deliberately did not name persons here, many of those names and much other valuable information have been supplied by the editor, thus bringing us closer to the times recalled by the aging poet and propagandist. In a book written mostly in aphorisms, he sums up his life and work, his literary and political views, and--one year before the Nazi assumption of power in Germany--predicts the future influence of communism from the Soviet Union.
This volume also includes Dear Tucker, Mackay's letters to his American anarchist friend Benjamin R. Tucker, written in English since Tucker did not read German. Although one-sided--the letters from Tucker to Mackay were destroyed--the correspondence gives evidence of a life-long, warm friendship between the leading representatives of individualist anarchism in Germany and America respectively. The letters have been supplied with notes that identity the many persons mentioned in them, thus helping to place them historically. Of particular interest is the insight they give into Mackay's literary struggle, under the pseudonym Sagitta, to promote the cause of love between men and boys. The letters reveal the ruthless opposition of the state in a classic example of the use of raw power to crush individual liberty.
Together, Summing Up and Dear Tucker give us unexpected insights into the life and writings of John Henry Mackay. They help us better appreciate this Scotch-German lyricist, novelist, biographer, and anarchist propagandist whose writings are indeed so various that they escape classification.
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April 05, 2001
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