Alfred Kazin’s America
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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.
“Kazin possessed a gift for writing and an uncanny ability to explain why a certain writer succeeded or failed, and why it mattered. . . . As a writer deeply in the American grain, he reminds us again and again, in his expansive sense of possibility, that passion and hope are the best native virtues.” “Alfred Kazin’s combustible soul thought God might yet be sought in American literature.” “Alfred Kazin chose America as his subject, and his intellectual awakening is itself something of an American legend…Ted Solotaroff’s selection of his work is a fitting tribute, a book that will be a starting point for further reading, both of Kazin and of the native writers to whom he devoted himself” “An enthralling introduction to the work of a man who ‘lived to read’ and conveyed that passion to his own readers for half a century.” “A distinct pleasure.” “A book for which everyone interested in good writing in America should be grateful.” “This most thoughtfully chosen collection is a fitting monument to the man and his work.” “[Kazin is] one of a handful of acknowledged arbiters of critical judgment in American.” “Carved from more than 50 years of Kazin’s essays and memoirs, this posthumous anthology traces the biographical and intellectual arc of one of America’s finest—and most versatile—literary critics.”
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