No. 3

Dwight Macdonald

Can cover an amazing amount of territory, coming to the aid of weaker teammates whenever there's a crisis at hand. Stalinists taking over the American left? Call Dwight Macdonald. Mid-cult writers dominating the book pages? Call Dwight Macdonald. In both the ideological and lit-critical arenas, he was the embodiment of the independent mind, well-read in a hundred subjects and able to deflate pretentious reputations in any one of them. An unwavering political democrat, he knew better than to allow his egalitarian instincts in the civic arena to stain his unflagging commitment to what his opponents called aesthetic elitism -- but which would be better described, simply, as a belief in absolute standards.