Delmore Schwartz

The Life of an American Poet
James Atlas
ISBN 9781566491204 (paperback)
Published in May 2000
MSRP $14.00
With the appearance in 1938 of his first book, In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, twenty-four-year-old Delmore Schwartz was immediately recognized as a genuinely innovative force in American letters, drawing praise from T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Allen Tate, John Crowe Ransom, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams; for Tate, it was “the only genuine innovation we've had since Eliot and Pound.” A decade later his book of short stories, The World Is A Wedding, was characterized by many critics as the definitive portrait of their generation. Yet Schwartz's early promise was followed by a tragic decline and finally death in a midtown Manhattan hotel at the age of fifty-two.
At the height of his fame, Schwartz proclaimed himself “the poet of the Atlantic migration that made America.” Schwartz was an integral member of a circle of critics, poets, and novelists that included John Berryman, Robert Lowell, and Saul Bellow, who later memorialized his friend as the doomed poet Von Humbolt Fleisher in Humbolt's Gift. Drawing on interviews, an extraordinary collection of previously unpublished papers, Schwartz's brilliant satires of his friends and acquaintances, and his letters to Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and many others, James Atlas creates a vivid portrait of Schwartz and brings to life the vital literary milieu of America in the thirties and forties.

James Atlas is most recently the author of Bellow: A Biography.