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Sample Autograph Signature: Alfred Kazin

American author and literary critic. Alfred Kazin (1915–1998) was born in the hardscrabble Brooklyn, New York neighborhood of Brownsville to Jewish immigrant parents who had come from tsarist Russia. His father was a housepainter and his mother a garment worker. He earned a B.S. in 1935 from the City College of New York and a M.A. from Columbia University in 1938. He then worked as a freelance book reviewer for The New Republic and other periodicals. Kazin, however, had studied with Carl Van Doren (literary editor of The Nation and brother of Mark Van Doren) at Columbia who encouraged him to write a book about twentieth century American prose. Thus was born his first book, On Native Grounds (1942), a sweeping historical study of modern American literature which won him instant recognition. Kazin is regarded as one of "The New York Intellectuals", a circle of politically active writers, literary critics and commentators whose cultural criticism advocated various socialistic political ideas while denouncing its totalitarian manifestations. The circle included such figures as Lionel Trilling, Sidney Hook, Edmund Wilson, Mary McCarthy, Irving Kristol, James T. Farrell and Irving Howe. Many of those associated with this group, like Kazin, had been born and raised in Brooklyn's poor immigrant communities, attended The City College of New York, and contributed the left-wing political journal Partisan Review. Kazin politics were more moderate than most of the group despite being raised by a father sympathetic to Eugene Debs' Socialist Party of Eugene Debs and shaped within the life of the immigrant working class. Kazin was to say: "From my first conscious moments I was absorbed in the most intimate problems of the working class … I was by temperament created for the idea of revolution, in the sense of making the world over and creating a new society… [but] I really did not believe that the 'socialism' of my father and so many other Jewish workmen would change anything." Nonetheless, he remained staunchly liberal and much of his criticism appeared in Partisan Review, The New Republic and The New Yorker. His essay collections include The Inmost Leaf (1955), Contemporaries (1962), Bright Book of Life (1973), An American Procession (1984), Writing Was Everything (1995), and God & the American Writer (1997). His autobiographical works include A Walker in the City (1951), Starting Out in the Thirties (1965), and New York Jew (1978), as well as A Lifetime Burning in Every Moment: From the Journals of Alfred Kazin (1996). Kazin received the First Truman Capote Literary Trust Lifetime Achievement Award in Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin.

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