Alfred Kazin: A Biography by Professor Richard M. Cook

By Professor Richard M. Cook

Born in 1915 to slightly literate Jewish immigrants within the Brownsville portion 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. cook dinner offers a portrait of Kazin in his public roles and in his usually unsatisfied inner most existence. Drawing at the own journals Kazin saved for over 60 years, inner most correspondence, and various conversations with Kazin, he uncovers the complete tale of the lonely, stuttering boy from Jewish Brownsville who grew to become 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 guides undefined, together with A Walker within the urban and different memoirs, books of feedback, in addition to a circulation of essays and stories that ceased basically together with his loss of life in 1998. prepare dinner tells of Kazin’s adolescence, his stricken 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 matters and the ordinary approach within which his subject’s own existence formed his occupation as a public highbrow. specific consciousness is paid to Kazin’s feel of himself as a Jewish-American “loner” whose internal estrangements gave him perception into the divisions on the center of recent culture.  (20090224)

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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. What distinguishes this passage (and much of Kazin’s criticism) is neither close argument nor precise analysis, but rather its evocation of the ‘‘feel’’ of the book, together with a lyrical and almost mimicking response to the distinctive sensibility of the author.

T H E T H I RT I E S : S TA RT I N G O U T ≥∞ Kazin did not meet Cowley on his first visit. Otis Ferguson, who helped with editing, greeted him in ‘‘the parlor,’’ read the note from Chamberlain, laughed, had a talk, and decided to give the young ‘‘intelligent radical’’ a chance. Ferguson, who wrote about jazz and reviewed films, had a talent and temperament in tune with the proletarian temper of the times. Kazin remembers him as ‘‘one of the real toughs of the Thirties,’’ who liked to scorn the ‘‘cosy, Algonquin lunching’’ crowd of literary types that had survived into the thirties from more genteel times.

Forty of Kazin’s classmates at City College did enlist with the Lincoln Brigade, and many never returned. ’’ There was little room for neutrals or nuances. ’’∫ But if Hitler, Franco, and Mussolini were the enemy, Stalin was not making it easy for those allied with the Communists. Reports from Spain of the Stalinists’ efforts to purge the left of anarchists and Socialists left radicals ∂∂ T H E T H I RT I E S : O N N AT I V E G R O U N D S back home wondering about the Soviet Union’s intentions.

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