Alfred Kazin

Biography of Alfred Kazin

Alfred Kazin (June 5, 1915 – June 5, 1998) was an American writer and literary critic, many of whose writings depicted the immigrant experience in early twentieth century America.

Like many of the other New York Intellectuals, Alfred Kazin was a Jew born in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn and a graduate of the City College of New York. However, his politics were more moderate than most of the New York Intellectuals, many of whom were socialists.

Kazin was deeply impacted by his peers' subsequent disillusion with liberalism. Adam Kirsch writes in The New Republic, "Having invested his romantic self-image in liberalism, Kazin perceived abandonment of liberalism by his peers as an attack on his identity."

He wrote out of a great passion—or great disgust—for what he was reading and embedded his opinions in a deep knowledge of history, both literary history and politics and culture. In 1996 he was awarded the first Truman Capote Lifetime Achievement Award in Literary Criticism, which carries with it a cash reward of $100,000. The only other person to have won the award is George Steiner.

Alfred Kazin's Works:

On Native Grounds: An Interpretation of Modern American Prose Literature (1942)
The Open Street (1948)
A Walker in the City (1951)
The Inmost Leaf: Essays on American and European Writers (1955)
Contemporaries: Essays on Modern Life and Literature (1963)
Starting Out in the Thirties (1965)
Bright Book of Life: American Novelists and Storytellers from Hemingway to Mailer (1973)
New York Jew (1978)
The State of the Book World, 1980: Three Talks (1980), with Dan Lacy and Ernest L. Boyer
An American Procession: The Major American Writers from 1830 to 1930—The Crucial Century (1984)
A Writer's America: Landscape in Literature (1988)
Our New York (1989), co-authored with David Finn
The Emmy Parrish Lectures in American Studies (1991)
Writing Was Everything (1995)
A Lifetime Burning in Every Moment: From the Journals of Alfred Kazin (1996)
God and the American Writer (1997)
Alfred Kazin's America: Critical and Personal Writings (2003) edited and with an introduction by Ted Solotaroff
Alfred Kazin's Journals (2011), selected and edited by Richard M. Cook

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