Description : At the time of his death in 1998, Alfred Kazin was considered one of the most influential intellectuals of postwar America. What is less well known is that Kazin had been contributing almost daily to an extensive private journal, which arguably contains some of his best writing. These journals collectively tell the story of his journey from Brooklyn's Brownsville neighborhood to his position as a dominant figure in twentieth-century cultural life. To Kazin, the daily entry was a psychological and spiritual act. To read through these entries is to reexperience history as a series of daily discoveries by an alert, adventurous, if often mercurial intelligence. It is also to encounter an array of interesting and notable personalities. Sketches of friends, mistresses, family figures, and other intellectuals are woven in with commentary on Kazin's childhood, early religious interests, problems with parents, bouts of loneliness, dealings with publishers, and thoughts on the Holocaust. The journals also highlight his engagement with the political and cultural debates of the decades through which he lived. He wrestles with communism, cultural nationalism, liberalism, existentialism, Israel, modernism, and much more. Judiciously selected and edited by acclaimed Kazin biographer Richard Cook, this collection provides the public with access to these previously unavailable writings and, in doing so, offers a fascinating social, historical, literary, and cultural record.
Description : This book examines different affinities between major classical authors and great filmmakers alongside representations of ancient myth and history in popular cinema.
Description : World War II coincided with cinema's golden age. Movies now considered classics were created at a time when all sides in the war were coming to realize the great power of popular films to motivate the masses. Through multinational research, One World, Big Screen reveals how the Grand Alliance--Britain, China, the Soviet Union, and the United States--tapped Hollywood's impressive power to shrink the distance and bridge the differences that separated them. The Allies, M. Todd Bennett shows, strategically manipulated cinema in an effort to promote the idea that the United Nations was a family of nations joined by blood and affection. Bennett revisits Casablanca, Mrs. Miniver, Flying Tigers, and other familiar movies that, he argues, helped win the war and the peace by improving Allied solidarity and transforming the American worldview. Closely analyzing film, diplomatic correspondence, propagandists' logs, and movie studio records found in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the former Soviet Union, Bennett rethinks traditional scholarship on World War II diplomacy by examining the ways that Hollywood and the Allies worked together to prepare for and enact the war effort.
Description : In this book, Alfred Kazin, who for more than 30 years has been one of the central figures of America's intellectual life, takes us into his own life and times. His autobiography encompasses a personal story openly told; an inside look at New York's innermost intellectual circles; strong and intimate revelations of many of the most important writers of the century; and brilliantly astute observations of the literary accomplishments, atmosphere, and fads of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s in the context of America's shifting political gales.
Description : A literary icon’s “singular and beautiful” memoir of growing up as a first-generation Jewish American in Brownsville, Brooklyn (The New Yorker). A classic portrait of immigrant life in the early decades of the twentieth century, A Walker in the City is a tour of tenements, subways, and synagogues—but also a universal story of the desires and fears we experience as we try to leave our small, familiar neighborhoods for something new. With vivid imagery and sensual detail—the smell of half-sour pickles, the dry rattle of newspapers, the women in their shapeless flowered housedresses—Alfred Kazin recounts his boyhood walks through this working-class community, and his eventual foray across the river to “the city,” the mysterious, compelling Manhattan, where treasures like the New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum beckoned. Eventually, he would travel even farther, building a life around books and language and literature and exploring all that the world had to offer. “The whole texture, color, and sound of life in this tenement realm . . . is revealed as tapestried, as dazzling, as full of lush and varied richness as an Arabian bazaar.” —The New York Times
Description : Born in 1915 to barely literate Jewish immigrants in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, Alfred Kazin rose from near poverty to become a dominant figure in twentieth-century literary criticism and one of Americas last great men of letters. Biographer Ri
Description : The Ethics of Mourning dramatically shifts the critical discussion of the lyric elegy from psychological economy to ethical responsibility. Beginning from a reevaluation of famously inconsolable mourners such as Niobe and Hamlet, R. Clifton Spargo discerns the tendency of all grief to depend at least temporarily upon the refusal of consolation. By disrupting the traditional social and psychological functions of grief, resistant mourners transform mourning into a profoundly ethical act. Spargo finds such examples of ethical mourning in opposition to socially acceptable expressions of grief throughout the English and American elegiac tradition. Drawing on the work of Paul Ricoeur, Bernard Williams, and Emmanuel Levinas, his book explores the ethical dimensions of anti-consolatory grief through astute readings of a wide range of texts—including treatments of Hamlet, Milton, and Renaissance elegists, extended readings of Dickinson, Shelley, and Hardy, and final chapters on American Holocaust elegies by Sylvia Plath and Randall Jarrell. Spargo argues that, to the extent that elegies are melancholic, to the extent that they resist the history of consolation and the strategies of commemoration implicit in elegiac conventions, they make an extraordinary ethical demand on us, asking that we remain in relationship to the other, even past the point of all usefulness. In the wake of the atrocities of the twentieth century, particularly the Holocaust, Spargo finds the crisis in the project of commemoration to be an event already inscribed with ethical meaning. He argues for the particular capacity of literature to undertake an imaginative risk on behalf of another that seems the very ground of ethics itself.
Description : An American Procession is a study, on the largest scale, of the major American writers at work during the historically and literarily crucial century that began in the early 1830s, when Ralph Waldo Emerson founded a national literature on the basis of a metaphysical revolution, and ended on the eve of the 1930s with the triumph of modernism and the critical recognition of the “postponed power” of those who had been modern before their time. These one hundred years encompassed a period of unprecedented expansion and promise in the United States, and the work of our novelists, essayists, poets, and historians was the mirror of the nation’s spirit. The thirty years preceding the Civil War produced the transcendental idealism of Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman and the dark romanticism of Hawthorne, Poe, and Melville. In the years just after World War I, modernism reached its exemplary form in the work of Eliot, Pound, Hemingway, Dos Passos, and Fitzgerald, and between the two wars emerged the great realists: Mark Twain, Henry James, Crane, and Dreiser. It is through an exploration of the lives and works of these writers—together with Emily Dickinson, William James, Henry Adams, and Faulkner—that Kazin maps out a great literary procession shaped by individual genius, by history, and by the implacable American sense of self. With each writer, Alfred Kazin illuminates for us the work, the influences that informed it, and its influence on the work of others. Each figure seems revitalized for us by Kazin’s acuity and powerful sympathy for his subject. An American Procession, with its intellectual energy, its clarity and breadth, is the brilliantly executed capstone of Kazin’s already illustrious career and will stand as the most important study of American literature in our time.
Description : A deft blend of autobiography, history, and criticism, Writing Was Everything emerges as a reaffirmation of literature in an age of deconstruction and critical dogma. It stands as clear testimony to Kazin's belief that "literature is not theory but, at best, the value we can give to our experience, which in our century has been and remains beyond the imagination of mankind."
Description : The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Kazin became the last 20th century American literary and social critic in a great tradition that began with Edmund Wilson. A Lifetime Burning in Every Moment is a collection of writings from Kazin's diaries, which he has kept from the 1930s to the present. From a sensitive observer who is never at a loss for the most striking words, this is an astute and resonant portrait of cultural life in the last half century.