Alfred Kazin's America: Critical and Personal Writings

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Harper Collins, Sep 28, 2004 - Literary Criticism - 592 pages
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Over the course of sixty years, Alfred Kazin's writings confronted virtually all of our major imaginative writers, from Emerson to Emily Dickinson to James Wright and Joyce Carol Oates -- including such unexpected figures as Lincoln, William James, and Thorstein Veblen. This son of Russian Jews wrote out of the tensions of the outsider and the astute, outspoken leftist -- or, as he put it, "the bitter patriotism of loving what one knows." Editor Ted Solotaroff hasselected material from Kazin's three classic memoirs to accompany his critical writings. Alfred Kazin's America provides an ongoing example of the spiritual freedom, individualism, and democratic contentiousness that he regarded as his heritage and endeavored to pass on.

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Alfred Kazin's America: critical and personal writings

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Considered by many the dean of American letters and the successor to William Dean Howells and Edmund Wilson, Kazin (1915-98) was arguably the preeminent literary critic of his day. This representative ... Read full review


The Kitchen
Mrs Solovey
Preface to On Native Grounds
Edith Wharton and Theodore Dreiser
Thorstein Veblen
The Single Voice of Ralph Ellison
Joan Didion and Joyce Carol Oates
The Gift of Feeling
The Priest Departs The Divine Literatus Comes
Thoreau and American Power
The Ghost Sense
Melville Is Dwelling Somewhere in New York
I Am the Man

Sherwood Anderson and Sinclair Lewis
Willa Cathers Elegy
F Scott Fitzgerald
Delmore Schwartz
The Fascination and Terror of Ezra Pound
The Sound and the Fury
Flannery OConnor and Walker Percy
The Historian at the Center
President Kennedy and Other Intellectuals
Cheever Salinger and Updike
Bellow Malamud and Roth
Capote and Mailer
The Almighty Has His Own Purposes
Called Back
Our Passion Is Our Task
Henry Adams and T S Eliot
Edmund Wilson at Wellfleet
The Burden of Our Time
The Directness of Josephine Herbst
A Parade in the Rain
To Be a Critic

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Page 395 - Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.
Page 398 - Woe unto the world because of offences ; for it must needs be that offences come, but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.
Page 399 - I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years' struggle, the nation's condition is not what either party, or any man, devised or expected.
Page 399 - Now, at the end of three years' struggle, the Nation's condition is not what either party or any man devised or expected. God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending, seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North, as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God.
Page 398 - If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern...
Page 386 - The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
Page 515 - ... the historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order.
Page 343 - A THRONG of bearded men, in sad-colored garments, and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes.
Page 311 - ... afterwards, that in this place particularly they have been dammed up by the Blue ridge of mountains, and have formed an ocean which filled the whole valley ; that continuing to rise they have at length broken over at this spot, and have torn the mountain down from its summit to its base.
Page 150 - America our nation has been beaten by strangers who have turned our language inside out who have taken the clean words our fathers spoke and made them slimy and foul...

About the author (2004)

Alfred Kazin was born in Brooklyn in 1915. His first book, On Native Grounds, published in 1942, revolutionized critical perceptions of American literature. It was followed by many more books of essays and criticism, including A Walker in the City and, most recently, Writing Was Everything.

Kazin has taught at Harvard, Smith, Amherst, Hunter College, and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. In 1996, he received the Truman Capote Literary Trust's first Lifetime Award in Literary Criticism.

Kazin lives in New York City.

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