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By Steven J. Zipperstein

Born in Chicago in 1918, the prodigiously talented and erudite Isaac Rosenfeld was once anointed a “genius” upon the book of his “luminescent” novel, Passage from domestic and used to be anticipated to surpass even his closest pal and rival, Saul Bellow. but while felled by way of a middle assault on the age of thirty-eight, Rosenfeld had released particularly little, his existence diminished to a metaphor for literary failure.In this deeply contemplative publication, Steven J. Zipperstein seeks to reclaim Rosenfeld's legacy by way of “opening up” his paintings. Zipperstein examines for the 1st time the “small mountain” of unfinished manuscripts the author left in the back of, in addition to his fiercely candid journals and letters. within the procedure, Zipperstein finds a turbulent lifestyles that was once obsessively grounded in a profound dedication to the beliefs of the writing life.Rosenfeld’s Lives is an interesting exploration of literary genius and aspiration and the paradoxical strength of literature to raise and to enslave. It illuminates the cultural and political tensions of post-war the US, Jewish highbrow lifetime of the period, and—most poignantly—the fight on the middle of any writer’s existence. (20090618)

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Extra resources for Rosenfeld's Lives: Fame, Oblivion, and the Furies of Writing

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He lived, as he described it, in “a sort of attic” with a slant roof, a small window that left the room, essentially, in perpetual darkness. It was to this room that he would bring Vasiliki Sarantakis, whom he met in December 1940. “She is a girl of twenty-four, short (4Ј 11 3/4Љ), slender (32), lithe (118 lbs). . She has brown eyes, perfect white, even, excellent teeth, a classical Greek profile, small hands and feet. ” They met at the convocation ceremony for Chicago students; they sat near one another since seating was alphabetical.

A. S. Byatt writes in her fictional meditation A Biographer’s Tale: “I didn’t want to hunt or penetrate DestryScholes. I wanted more simply to get to know him, to meet him, maybe to make a kind of friend of him. A collaborator. A colleague. ”9 Literary critic Theodore Solotaroff went to the University of Chicago shortly before Rosenfeld’s death hoping to study with him but was too timid to meet him. Solotaroff recalled what reading Rosenfeld meant for him during a particularly rough, fallow period: “I spotted a copy of the Chicago Review that contained a posthumous essay by Isaac Rosenfeld on the experience of writing.

The notion is too preposterous to consider, its declaration ample evidence of its absurdity. They seem, and perhaps really are, concerned for his welfare. Yet they’re “cold as ice . . ” They intrude on him, they organize him: 21 Rosenfeld’s Lives he resents them more and more. The “hotter he got, the cooler his aunts became, cooler, colder, stranger. And it seemed to him that they were becoming larger, larger, and they began to sprout horns! Their devilish smiles pierced him like (sharp) horns!

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