By Professor Richard M. Cook
Born in 1915 to slightly literate Jewish immigrants within the Brownsville part of Brooklyn, Alfred Kazin rose from close to poverty to develop into a dominant determine in twentieth-century literary feedback and one among America’s final nice males of letters. Biographer Richard M. prepare dinner offers a portrait of Kazin in his public roles and in his often unsatisfied deepest existence. Drawing at the own journals Kazin saved for over 60 years, deepest correspondence, and diverse conversations with Kazin, he uncovers the whole tale of the lonely, stuttering boy from Jewish Brownsville who turned a pioneering critic and influential cultural commentator. Upon the looks of On local Grounds in 1942, Kazin was once dubbed “the boy ask yourself of yank criticism.” a number of courses undefined, together with A Walker within the urban and different memoirs, books of feedback, in addition to a circulate of essays and stories that ceased simply along with his dying in 1998. prepare dinner tells of Kazin’s early life, his marriages, and his relatives with such figures as Lionel Trilling, Saul Bellow, Malcolm Cowley, Arthur Schlesinger, Hannah Arendt, and Daniel Bell. He illuminates Kazin’s pondering on political-cultural concerns and the ordinary approach within which his subject’s own lifestyles formed his occupation as a public highbrow. specific recognition is paid to Kazin’s experience of himself as a Jewish-American “loner” whose internal estrangements gave him perception into the divisions on the center of contemporary culture. (20090224)
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Additional info for Alfred Kazin: A Biography
Kazin had been reading Chamberlain’s essays with interest and some irritation for several weeks; this time, he took exception to the abstract quality of the article, and, as he explains in Starting Out in the Thirties, he wanted to set the recent Yale graduate straight on some things—after all, ‘‘I was youth, afraid to go home without a job. . ’’ Chamberlain welcomed him—not wholly as a stranger; Kazin had written him earlier of his interest in his pieces—and at the end of a lengthy conversation on all manner of radical and Socialist ideas, he sent Kazin off to Malcolm Cowley at the New Republic with a note—‘‘here’s an intelligent radical’’— and a recommendation that he be given a chance to do some book reviews.
The country was on the move—we were on the move. We were learning America. —Alfred Kazin, Journal, August 21, 1976 y 1936, Kazin was reviewing regularly in the New York Times Book Review and the Books section of the Herald Tribune. Some weeks he published two reviews in one paper and a review in the other, as well as pieces under the pseudonym David Tilden. He supplemented his freelancing with odd jobs—writing the memoirs (from dictation) for a retired British Army colonel, dramatizing episodes from The Pickwick Papers and stories by Edgar Allan Poe for a Brooklyn radio station, and teaching the occasional evening or summer course at City College.
His returned soldiers] need money and comfort for solace. They are tired; the long solemn words of accusation mean nothing to them; were they to state their resentment, they would not know whom to blame most. The tingle of being alive seems reward enough. . It is the bitter-sweet tang of youth, the slow ebb of an anxious conscience ‘‘mixing memory and desire,’’ that one responds to in this book. . Nothing sharp, strong, compelling, nothing everlasting, memorable for its anger. But in its place a swift and sometimes cheerful thrust against the threat of aimlessness and death, so simple a tribute to the simplicity of the normal.