The fate of America’s pre-eminent twentieth-century critic

by
April 2012, no. 340

Alfred Kazin: A biography by Richard M. Cook

Yale University Press (Inbooks), $49.95 hb, 452 pp

Buy this book
Book Cover 2 Small

Alfred Kazin’s Journals

edited by Richard M. Cook

Yale University Press (Inbooks), $59.95 hb, 621 pp

Buy this book

The fate of America’s pre-eminent twentieth-century critic

by
April 2012, no. 340

If his biographer and editor of his Journals is to be believed, by the early 1960s the Brooklyn-born Alfred Kazin was ‘arguably the most sought-after and widely published critic’ in the United States. Kazin (1915–98) claimed that 1956–61 was ‘the greatest period in my life’. Having returned from a teaching post in Amherst to New York City, he succeeded in making a living as a freelance literary critic and essayist, assisted by the occasional visiting professorship (a form of assistance unavailable to his predecessor of sorts, the hero of George Gissing’s New Grub Street). Kazin’s reviews and essays appeared in the Atlantic, Harper’s, American Scholar, the New York Times Book Review, Commentary, Partisan Review, Reporter, and Playboy. He would publish eighty-two articles in the New York Review of Books, of which he observed, possibly biting one of the hands that fed him: ‘Critic for NY Review of Books – someone who argues brilliantly on behalf of the most arbitrary personal prejudices.’

Don Anderson reviews 'Alfred Kazin: A Biography' and 'Alfred Kazin’s Journals' by Richard M. Cook

Alfred Kazin: A biography

by Richard M. Cook

Yale University Press (Inbooks), $49.95 hb, 452 pp

Buy this book
Book Cover 2 Small

Alfred Kazin’s Journals

edited by Richard M. Cook

Yale University Press (Inbooks), $59.95 hb, 621 pp

Buy this book

You May Also Like

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.