With his New Directions debut in 1938, the twenty-five-year-old Delmore Schwartz was hailed as a genius and among the most promising writers of his generation. Yet he died in relative obscurity in 1966, wracked by mental illness and substance abuse. Sadly, his literary legacy has been overshadowed by the story of his tragic life.
Among poets, Schwartz was a prototype for the confessional movement made famous by his slightly younger friends Robert Lowell and John Berryman. While his stories and novellas about Jewish American experience laid the groundwork for novels by Saul Bellow (whose Humboldt’s Gift is based on Schwartz’s life) and Philip Roth.
Much of Schwartz’s writing has been out of print for decades. This volume, with an introduction from John Ashbery, aims to restore Schwartz to his proper place in the canon of American literature and give new readers access to the breadth of his achievement. Included are selections from the in-print stories and poems, as well as excerpts from his long unavailable epic poem Genesis, a never-completed book-length work on T.S. Eliot, and unpublished poems from his archives.