Once and for All: The Best of Delmore Schwartz
With his New Directions debut in 1938, the twenty-five-year-old Delmore Schwartz was hailed as a genius and among the most promising writers of his generation. Yet he died in relative obscurity in 1966, wracked by mental illness and substance abuse. Sadly, his literary legacy has been overshadowed by the story of his tragic life.
Among poets, Schwartz was a prototype for the confessional movement made famous by his slightly younger friends Robert Lowell and John Berryman. While his stories and novellas about Jewish American experience laid the groundwork for novels by Saul Bellow (whose Humboldt's Gift is based on Schwartz's life) and Philip Roth.
Much of Schwartz's writing has been out of print for decades. This volume aims to restore Schwartz to his proper place in the canon of American literature and give new readers access to the breadth of his achievement. Included are selections from the in-print stories and poems, as well as excerpts from his long unavailable epic poem Genesis, a never-completed book-length work on T. S. Eliot, and unpublished poems from his archives.
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About the Author
John Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York, in 1927. He wrote more than twenty books of poetry, including Quick Question; Planisphere; Notes from the Air; A Worldly Country; Where Shall I Wander; and Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, which received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award. The winner of many prizes and awards, both nationally and internationally, he received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation in 2011 and a National Humanities Medal, presented by President Obama at the White House, in 2012. Ashbery died in September 2017 at the age of ninety.
This new collection of Delmore Schwartz's work reads like a literary "CV of Failures," a powerful testament to a life shaken by the Great Depression. As we navigate the long road to national recovery, we can use his writing both as a mirror and as a compass.--Jason Boog
Delmore's genius survives in the sound of his words, in his hypnotizing lines.--Jonathan Galassi
This richly illuminating collection should help secure Schwartz the renewed appreciation he deserves.--Donna Seaman
This is a consistently intriguing volume that devotees and neophytes will want on their shelf.
For Schwartz poetry was ongoing and unstoppable, a process as compulsive and endless as the mariner's telling of his tale.--Mark Ford
What complicates and enriches Schwartz's comedy is, I think, a reaching out toward nobility, a shy aspiring spirituality, a moment or two of achieved purity of feeling.--Irving Howe
One of the young princes of American literature in the middle of the 20th century
[V]ivid details of lived experience are thrust throughout Schwartz's writing. Readers are left reeling among elemental features of the world, physical and immediate yet drenched as well with historical and literary ambience.--Patrick James Dunagan
A genius... one of the greatest writers of our era.--Lou Reed
Once and for All serves as an ideal introduction for the curious reader.--Adam Kirsch