A Walker in the City

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1952 - Biography & Autobiography - 159 pages
2 Reviews
Alfred Kazin burst onto the American literary scene in 1942, when his first book, "On Native Grounds," announced the arrival of an important new literary critic. "A Walker in the City," his second, signaled the other direction his career would follow: author of several intense, intimate, and lyrical memoirs.

Years later he would admit how he struggled writing it. He thought he wanted to concentrate on New York itself, describing a series of walks around the city. But what emerged was the story of his own boyhood encounters with it, starting from Brownsville, the Brooklyn Jewish neighborhood of his birth, then stretching out to alluring, mysterious Manhattan and from there to the world.

Each walk is simultaneously a journey out and a journey in: outward, from the neighborhood to the land beyond, the great, electric, canyoned streets of the city; inward, into his own soul, as it grows and falls in love with books and language and literature, with music and metaphysics and politics, with the city and the country and the world and rapturously tries to take them all in.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ennie - LibraryThing

After 38 pages, I gave up on this classic memoir of the author's Brownsville (Brooklyn) childhood. Just couldn't get into it. Read full review

Review: A Walker in the City

User Review  - Adam Shprintzen - Goodreads

One of my favorite books, just began my fourth reading. Despite its age, the book offers what I still consider the most accurate description of the soul and rhythm of life in New York. Read full review



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About the author (1952)

Alfred Kazin, a literary critic and professor of English literature, was born in Brooklyn on June 5, 1915. He was educated at City College and Columbia University. Kazin established his own critical reputation in the mid-1940s with On Native Grounds (1942), a study of American literature. His later work, Bright Book of American Life (1973), is both a recapitulation of modernism and an evaluation of American writers who have achieved prominence since 1945. Modernism, a favorite topic of Kazin, is in his view a literary revolution marked by spontaneity and individuality but lacking in precisely the mass culture appeal necessary to its survival. Contemporaries (1962) includes reflective essays on travel, five essays on Freud, and some very perceptive essays on literary and political matters. The final section, "The Critic's Task," concerns itself with the critic's function within a popular and an academic context and with critical theory and principles. Starting Out in the Thirties (1965) describes Kazin's early years with The New Republic as book reviewer and evaluates his contemporaries in a period when the depression and radical political thought, pro and con, deeply affected literary production. In the midst of the current antihumanistic trend in literary theory, Kazin remains a literary critic of the old school, believing in the relevance of literature to modern life. Alfred Kazin died on June 5, 1998.

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