2017 READING CHALLENGE
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At the same time this son of immigrant Russian Jews wrote out of the tensions of the outsider and the astute, outspoken leftist -- or, as he typically put it, "the bitter patriotism of loving what one knows." To indicate the development of this charged point of view, Ted Solotaroff has selected material from Kazin's three classic memoirs to accompany his critical writings. These excerpts also provide the pleasure of his sharply etched portraits of the Brownsville, Greenwich Village, Upper West Side, and Cape Cod literary milieus and of such figures as Saul Bellow, Lionel Trilling, Edmund Wilson, and Hannah Arendt.
The selections in "Alfred Kazin's America follow the course of his career. They are introduced by theeditor's substantial essay, which connects the youth to the man and both to the critic, and draws upon Solotaroff's own relations with him. This close joining of the personal to the critical seeks to pass on and reactivate a great American critic's presence and legacy.
As our sense of the American past continues to dry up and threatens to blow away in the heavy winds of change, those writers who can make our heritage come alive again and challenge us become all the more essential. Alfred Kazin's America provides an ongoing example of the spiritual freedom, individualism, and democratic contentiousness that takes us back to Emerson and forward through our literature to the better part of our own Americanism.
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