After his death on March 8, The New York Times paid tribute to Marx, who taught English and American studies at Amherst from 1958 to 1977. During that time, he published the landmark book The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America.
“Marx found that American writers had adapted the venerable literary genre of pastoral—born in the ancient Middle East and perfected in classical times by Theocritus and Virgil—to convey and reflect the country’s culture from the 1840s on,” writes John Motyka in the obituary. “The form, which favors an idyllic rural scene over a more sophisticated urbane one, was expanded upon by writers like Whitman, Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne, who would jarringly interrupt that setting—Professor Marx called it an ‘interrupted idyll’—by pitting an industrializing culture against nature.”
The obituary describes The Machine in the Garden, published in 1964, as a highly acclaimed and influential book in American studies, but one that also drew criticism as the field changed in later decades. Motyka also mentions Marx’s other writings, his family, his military service, and his teaching at the University of Minnesota and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before and after his time at Amherst.