Download Alfred Kazin: A Biography by Professor Richard M. Cook PDF

By Professor Richard M. Cook

Born in 1915 to slightly literate Jewish immigrants within the Brownsville component to Brooklyn, Alfred Kazin rose from close to poverty to turn into a dominant determine in twentieth-century literary feedback and one in all America’s final nice males of letters. Biographer Richard M. prepare dinner offers a portrait of Kazin in his public roles and in his usually unsatisfied deepest lifestyles. Drawing at the own journals Kazin saved for over 60 years, inner most correspondence, and various conversations with Kazin, he uncovers the entire 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 yankee criticism.” quite a few 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 basically together with his dying in 1998. prepare dinner tells of Kazin’s formative years, his marriages, and his kinfolk 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 means within which his subject’s own existence formed his profession 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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Extra info for Alfred Kazin: A Biography

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He had looked into Theodore Roosevelt’s Letters to His Children as though they were written to him. ’’≤Ω One cannot know how much Kazin’s detailed descriptions of his early passion for America owe to retrospection. Had he, in fact, gone from room to room in the Met thinking they had painted his city, his country? Had he really imagined that Roosevelt might have written the letters to him? Such specific recollections undoubtedly owe as much to the imagination and the creative demands of art as to the reliability of memory—though Kazin prided himself on his Proustian ability to recall childhood detail.

For all ‘‘the bold, persistent experimentation’’ that Franklin D. Roosevelt had promised in his 1932 presidential campaign, the Depression ground on. Two years into the New Deal, one in five American workers was without a job. Kazin’s father would remain unemployed for nearly all of the thirties. Conditions in Europe were becoming desperate and terrifying. Mussolini and the Fascists controlled Italy and were waging a military B ∂≠ T H E T H I RT I E S : O N N AT I V E G R O U N D S campaign against Ethiopia, attacking a defenseless population with bombers, flamethrowers and poison gas—foreshadowing the terror that would later engulf Europe.

The occasion was an essay-review of Chamberlain’s on youth and politics during the Depression. 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.

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