Could someone please answer the following questions? 1- What is an “editorial novelist”? 2- What does “dude” and “literary dude” mean in the following passages:

All are mentioned in a New Yorker article by Arthur Krystal, titled “Easy Writers.” (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/05/28/easy-writers?verso=true):

  1. Chandler wasn’t pleased. “Literature is bunk,” he retorted, propagated by “fancy boys, clever-clever darlings, stream-of-consciousness ladies and gents, and editorial novelists”—in other words, a bunch of literary dudes.

  2. “He [Mathew Arnold] will not be missed,” Whitman told a friend. Arnold reaffirmed all that was “rich, hefted, lousy, reeking with delicacy, refinement, elegance, prettiness, propriety, criticism, analysis.” He was, in short, “one of the dudes of literature.” Whitman probably figured that his own gnarly hirsuteness would save him from becoming a dude. He was wrong, and therein lies a lesson for all hardworking scribblers: stick around long enough, develop a cult following, gain the approval of one or two literary dudes (in Whitman’s case: Henry James, Ezra Pound, and F. O. Matthiessen), and you, too, can become respectable.”

It seems that Chandler and Whitman, as well as the writer of the article, have used “dude” as a disparaging term. If so, what does it (dude and literary dude) mean in this context?

Furthermore, if (literary) dude is disparaging or derogatory, how can it be applied to literary figures like Whitman and Henry James and Ezra Pound and F. O. Matthiessen (in The New Yorker article)? Could someone please clarify the issue?


I can't help you with "editorial novelist," but I do know where "dude" comes from.

"Dude" today is just some guy, usually a friend or buddy. It is also used as friendly greeting.

"Dude" used to be way different though. A dude was like a dandy - a fancy dresser more concerned with appearance than anything else.

A "literary dude" is therefore a writer or other person involved with literature who is more concerned with appearing to be literate rather than actually doing anything serious in the field.

In other words, a "literary dude" is a poser or wannabe who thinks he's really something - but only has the form and appearance but no substance, and is admired only by other posers.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.