Alfred Kazin (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
Richard M. Cook might well have subtitled his biography of Alfred Kazin “An Anatomy of Loneliness.” Throughout his eighty-three years, Kazin was never able to relate easily to people nor did he find in any of four marriages the kind of closeness that marriage usually involves. His first marriage, to Natasha Dohn in 1938, was annulled in 1944. His marriage in 1947 to Carol Bookman ended in divorce after three years and one child. His tumultuous sixteen-year marriage to Ann Birstein was terminated in 1978. Finally, in 1983, he wed Judith Dunford, eighteen years his junior, to whom he remained married for the rest of his life.
The son of Eastern European immigrants to New York, Kazin was brought up in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, living there with his parents from birth until he had completed a bachelor’s degree at New York’s City College in 1935 and a master’s degree at Columbia University in 1938. He shared the values found in many immigrant families of the period. His parents, like those of many Jewish American children who grew up during the Great Depression, sacrificed substantially with the expectation that their children would become the first college graduates in the family and would devote themselves to worthwhile endeavors.
Kazin’s mother, Gita Fagelman Kazin, was a seamstress who worked at home making fashionable clothes for a circle of devoted customers. Gita had a dominant personality and doted on her son and his...
(The entire section is 1731 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
Booklist 104, nos. 9/10 (January 1, 2008): 34.
Commentary 125, no. 4 (April, 2008): 61-64.
Journal of American History 95, no. 2 (September, 2008): 579.
Library Journal 133, no. 5 (March 15, 2008): 72.
London Review of Books 30, no. 12 (June 19, 2008): 11-14.
New England Quarterly 81, no. 3 (September, 2008): 525-527.
The New Republic 238, no. 5 (March 26, 2008): 43-47.
The New York Review of Books 55, no. 10 (June 12, 2008): 54-56.
The New Yorker 83, no. 44 (January 21, 2008): 81.
The Times Literary Supplement, May 2, 2008, pp. 10-11.
The Wall Street Journal 251, no. 10 (January 12, 2008): W9.
(The entire section is 64 words.)