Alpha and Omega: Stories by Isaac Rosenfeld (Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series)

Overview

During his short life, Isaac Rosenfeld was recognized as one of the most gifted writers of his generation. Starting in the early 1940s, he published stories—in magazines such as Partisan Review, The Kenyon Review, and Harper’s—that brilliantly fused contemporary American themes with techniques extended from his European masters, Dostoevsky and Kafka. The results are a visionary fiction, graced by humor, ironic bite, and profound tenderness.

Alpha and Omega collects seventeen ...

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Overview

During his short life, Isaac Rosenfeld was recognized as one of the most gifted writers of his generation. Starting in the early 1940s, he published stories—in magazines such as Partisan Review, The Kenyon Review, and Harper’s—that brilliantly fused contemporary American themes with techniques extended from his European masters, Dostoevsky and Kafka. The results are a visionary fiction, graced by humor, ironic bite, and profound tenderness.

Alpha and Omega collects seventeen stories written over the fifteen-year period from 1941 to 1956, the year of Rosenfeld’s death at the age of thirty-eight. In the earliest, “The Hand that Fed Me,” an “underground” man writes unanswered letters to a young woman, letters in which both desire and pride struggle for a hearing. “The Party” is a wry look at the world of splinter politics before the Cold War era. “Wolfie” introduces a new note of naturalism into Rosenfeld’s work, with an emphasis on salvation through the flesh. One of his last stories, “King Solomon” combines realism with fantasy in a place where “the magnificence of Jerusalem mingles raggedly with the dinginess of the Lower East Side,” as Saul Bellow put it in his elegiac memoir of Rosenfeld, reprinted here.

Within these pages, readers will discover a unique voice in American literature, a writer of whose premature death Ted Solotaroff lamented, “a precious light had gone out, leaving us that much more in the dark.”

 

Praise for Alpha and Omega and its author:

“A writer of singularly pure imagination.”—Alfred Kazin

“He succeeded in sustaining genuine affirmation with a complete awareness of the reality of evil and its fecundity, doing so by drawing upon intelligence and courage.”—Delmore Schwartz, The New York Times Book Review

“A man of refined intelligence, he wrote with clarity, masculine force and a notable freedom from pretentiousness.”—Irving Howe, The New Republic

“A thread of hope ran through his works, right beside that of despair….It is the tension between his belief in the attainability of values…and his knowledge of the gathering darkness of the modern world that makes his…writing such an arresting experience.”—Richard Schickel

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781435110243
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 6/25/2009
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Isaac Rosenfeld (1918–1956) was born in Chicago and educated at the University of Chicago. Moving to New York City in 1941, he published stories and literary criticism in Partisan Review and The New Republic, among other magazines. A novel, Passage from Home, appeared in 1946. After a teaching stint in Minnesota, Rosenfeld returned to Chicago and died shortly thereafter of a heart attack.

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