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In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories (Independent Voices) Paperback – 30 Apr 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Souvenir Press Ltd (30 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0285636693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0285636699
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 362,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. Simpson VINE VOICE on 4 July 2003
Format: Paperback
Apparently the publication of the title story in Partisan Review in 1937 led to the 23-year-old Schwartz being hailed as the voice of the new generation of American writers. Sadly he seems never to have got out from under the weight of expectation, becoming ever less productive until he died destitute in 1966. All but one of these stories date from before 1948 - and that one, possibly the most bizarre in the book, is certainly not among the most memorable. Delmore Schwartz's admittedly narrow focus of attention is on settled first generation European Jews trying to make their way American-style and the next generation of aimless intellectuals, including himself, usually under the name of Shenandoah Fish. Within these limits his acute observation, mordant wit and detached sympathy produce small, sad masterpieces. Certainly In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, which has claimed most of the critics' attention, is a powerful tale, but the most remarkable stories in the collection are the mini-sagas The Child is the Meaning of this Life and the wonderful The World is a Wedding, 60 pages tracing years of disappointment and talent dissipated, ending in not-quite-hope. New Year's Eve manages the near-impossible feat of being simultaneously a sardonic satire on the Partisan Review crowd and a melancholy meditation on the emptiness of life. Of the remaining four stories only America! America! matches this stunning standard - but who wants miracles?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Sep 1999
Format: Paperback
Delmore Schwartz was 21 when he wrote the title story in this collection. When it was published in Partisan Review in 1937 he became the voice of a new generation of young Americans. Thirty years later, at the age of 53, he died in a flop-house on Broadway after years in and out of Belleview. Saul Bellow fictionalised his relationship with him in the novel Humboldt's Gift. The title story is, simply, one of the masterpieces of American literature, an account of a young man who dreams that enters a cinema and watches the courtship of his parents on Coney Island in 1909. The shocking immediacy of his narrative style is still fresh, 60 years later.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Reader on 6 Feb 2011
Format: Paperback
I'd never heard of Delmore Schwartz before coming across this collection. So this book was a revelation. There is something about his writing, a quality of freedom and urgent human concern, that gets under the skin and stays with you. A great short story writer and an unforgettable experience for the reader.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
european son 7 Dec 1999
By Neil Roseman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Delmore Schwartz has unfortunately been forgotten by most people today, and that is a great shame. (An example of this is that Schwartz's student John Berryman has his own entry in the online edition of Encarta; Delmore does not.) I first came into contact with his work in 9th grade, when a teacher suggested I read the Schwartz poem, "The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me" -- one of his masterpieces, collected in "Summer Knowledge." Later, around the time I read this book,there was a brief surge in Delmore interest with the publication of Jame Atlas' biography of Schwartz and Saul Bellow's "Humboldts Gift", the title character being based on Delmore. Fortunately, this led to reprinting of much of his work. Sadly, it didn't lead to continued general interest.
The title story alone is reason enough to buy "In Dreams..." The brilliant device of having the main character watching a movie of his parents courtship, is was way ahead of its time. The end of the story will linger in your mind. It's heartbreaking and scary and funny.
Schwartz's work deserves a wider audience. I promise you will not be dissapointed if you take the time to read him. The only poet I know who has both a Berryman "Dream Song" and a Lou Reed song dedicated to him can't be too bad, can he?
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Your "Responsibility" to Find Great Literature Ends Here 10 July 2000
By Dale W. Boyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Five of the stories here are flat-out masterpieces ("In Dreams;" "The World is a Wedding;" "New Year's Eve;" "The Commencement Address;" and "The Track Meet"), while the other 3 are extremely well done, if not as wholly satisfying. This collection should be required reading in every contemporary lit. class. It's got everything: all the themes of struggle, frustration and defeat, responsibility, ambition, all the thoughts that men have thought in every age, and captures its era so perfectly and completely I am in awe. Even though the stories are, in some ways similar (especially "In Dreams," "The Commencement Address," and "The Track Meet"), they are utterly original, beautiful, hallucinatory, profound, funny and heartbreaking. Schwartz -- that great voice speaking out against the crowd -- deserves to be heard at last.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Incredible story 24 May 2005
By Mary Palmer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I've never had this experience before, or since. It is autumn of 1964. I am a college freshman, sitting on my bed reading the story "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities." My roommate and a few other dorm mates walk into the room and call my name, but I don't hear them, so lost am I in the story. Finally, someone nudges my arm. I look up--and the story, which had been unrolling before my eyes, is gone! I'm back in my college dorm room, no longer in the movie theater in the story. I had not even been aware that I was reading--I was IN the story, I was there, experiencing it, not just reading it--and for a few moments, I didn't know what had happened or where I was. Repeated readings never quite duplicated that first experience, but the story remains very powerful, very moving, very involving.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Schwartz's Gift 22 Aug 2003
By Mary E. Sibley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This collection of stories is graced by two introductions and lives up to every superlative. Irving Howe and biographer James Atlas note for the reader Delmore Schwartz's unfailing ear for the idiom of his parents' generation. Each of the stories is a masterpiece and competes, in terms of quality, with the Schwartz poetry. Having read James Atlas's biography of Delmore Schwartz this reader thinks of tragic waste and pain when thinking of Schwartz. And yet, and yet, when one considers the brilliance of these stories, the fact that his mere existence inspired the wonderful novel HUMBOLDT'S GIFT by Saul Bellow, and that he evoked intense loyality from his students the picture shifts to a life of immense achievement not disproportionate to his evident gift. This New Directions Paperback has a compelling photograph on the cover.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The despair of damaged dreams 22 Mar 2010
By Michael Jay Sullivan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As an undergraduate English major/graduate in the 70's, I'm surprised we were never exposed to these compelling, albeit, dark stories. I expected these to be more about Jewish culture in NY in the generation prior to the great migration. And that is definitely a subtext, but there none of the ritualistic religious nature that one usually ascribes to the rich tradition of Jewish American literature Rather these stories seemed more tragic than the ebullience that one might expect of group that, at least for some, realized the American dream quicker than any other ethnic group that was involved in the greatest wave in American History. Nevertheless, the wealth and fame that some of these characters momentarily gained- and often lost, seems more of a burden and quite illusory. In this sense Schwartz's works reminded me much of Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," and, to a lesser extent, "Tender is The Night," although not anywhere nearly as opulent or effete. But there is the downward mobility, partially as a result of the great depression, and the unrealistic notion that wealth is a constant, somewhat transcendent state. These stories are usually dark, and rife with alienated and/or broken characters (The Baumann's, Seymour, Rudyard Bell's circle). Perhaps it is the fate that often befalls the children of Type A, high achieving, families (here first generation immigrants- the religious tradition seems secondary), who often feel entitled and lack the drive of their parents, and either become wannabe's artists, and here, cynical intellectuals, in an age (and country?) that had no use for committed, free thinking, intellectuals; or these children of privilege become just lazy and marginally functional wastrels.

There is a lot of anger here, but for exactly what one is never entirely sure. Perhaps poor rearing, a denial of tradition, historical discontinuity...Whatever, Schwartz's character's rank with Kafka's and Camus (Joseph K (of "The Trial"), and Merseault (of "The Stranger") respectively)in their nihilistic self absorption but Schwartz doesn't quite rise to the metaphysical level of the European's mentioned. To read, these stories are engrossing, well crafted, but profoundly depressing. And, unfortunately, like his characters Schwartz a possibly more tragic fall than his characters in later life. It's a shame because Schwartz's prose, and insights into the flimsy nature or the American dream are really only matched by Fitzgerald, but here there is no intimations of a gilded, fanciful, age; rather we see the the dark underbelly of the American "rags to riches" archetype; glimpses that are even as powerful, and relevant, seventy to eighty years later.
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