They are New York stories, set in the late s and s with many references to past family histories of immigration and the struggle for success in America. The first story, which gives the book its title, the justly famous "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities," is my favorite. All the stories are worth reading and rereading. There is much to appreciate here.
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The son of Jewish immigrants, Schwartz was born in Brooklyn in His father was an exuberant huckster, who made and lost a fortune, and his mother was a deeply erratic paranoid. Their marriage was a catastrophe. Schwartz was a precocious teenager, an ardent and passionate reader who, by the time he was 20, had read all of the modernists and most of the philosophers, too.
This shock of recognition has much to do with the way Schwartz wrote about the Jewish immigrant experience in New York. He watches as his anxious father arrives too early for a date at the house of the girl who will become his wife. He follows the young couple as they travel out to Coney Island and watches as the young man proposes marriage in a scene of gentle comedy. Nothing good will come of it, only remorse, hatred, scandal, and two children whose characters are monstrous.
He published more stories, poems, essays and reviews. Everyone wanted to know him. But he never fulfilled his early promise, never wrote the great work of which he believed himself capable - his attempt at that great work, a long, autobiographical poem called Genesis was a grotesque self-indulgence.
In truth, Schwartz was consumed and then destroyed by frustrated ambition. Bellow once described seeing the aged Schwartz emerge dishevelled and probably drunk from his New York apartment. Rather than speak to his former friend, Bellow hid behind a car to avoid him. In the novel, this encounter is reimagined with considerable pathos as the Schwartz figure is portrayed stumbling towards death.
His lunch. Concealed by a parked car, I watched. Neurotic, alcoholic, drug-dependent, twice divorced, impecunious, he had become an embarrassment to all who knew him. Yet those who met Schwartz never forgot him or the brilliant boy he had been. They never forgot the turbulent intensity of his conversation or his belief in books and the dignity of the writing life.
Yet there was an immediate intimacy between them. Delmore Schwartz spent the last years of his life beginning stories that he would never complete. His broken life always got in the way of his work, but it was his work - his fiction, his poems, his essays - that mattered most to him.
He eventually died alone and largely forgotten in a midtown Manhattan hotel in His body was taken to the local morgue, where it remained unidentified for the next three days. It was true that he wanted success above all else.
But, in the end, what was most striking about him - his extreme precocity - was also his undoing. His later fiction is flat and repetitive; his poems are simply dull. Like Scott Fitzgerald, he did his best work before he reached From there, it was the long road to nowhere.
In Dreams Begin Responsibilities Essay
Early life[ edit ] Schwartz was born in in Brooklyn, New York , where he also grew up. His parents, Harry and Rose, both Romanian Jews , separated when Schwartz was nine, and their divorce had a profound effect on him. He had a younger brother, Kenneth. He then did some graduate work in philosophy at Harvard University , where he studied with the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead , but left and returned to New York without receiving a degree. The book was well received, and made him a well-known figure in New York intellectual circles. His work received praise from some of the most respected people in literature, including T. Eliot , William Carlos Williams , and Ezra Pound , and Schwartz was considered one of the most gifted and promising young writers of his generation.
Coney matrimony is phoney baloney
The son of Jewish immigrants, Schwartz was born in Brooklyn in His father was an exuberant huckster, who made and lost a fortune, and his mother was a deeply erratic paranoid. Their marriage was a catastrophe. Schwartz was a precocious teenager, an ardent and passionate reader who, by the time he was 20, had read all of the modernists and most of the philosophers, too. This shock of recognition has much to do with the way Schwartz wrote about the Jewish immigrant experience in New York.