Monday, December 05, 2016

"More: More and More: Always More"

"Schwartz's most brilliant exploration of his parents' failed marriage, and of its consequences for him, was the publication that launched his career. The short story 'In Dreams Begin Responsibilities' was the opening piece in the Autumn 1937 issue of Partisan Review, and it took literary New York by storm. The story recreates an episode in his parents' courtship from the summer of 1909, but with a twist: Schwartz ingeniously recounts an excursion that the young couple make to Coney Island, in the course of which his father proposes, as if their son-to-be was watching these events unfolding on a cinema screen. As his father outlines his future plans and finally makes his offer of marriage, his mother dissolves into tears, and the watching Delmore stands up and shouts at the screen: 'Don't do it! It's not too late to change your minds, both of you. Nothing good will come of it, only remorse, hatred, scandal, and two children whose characters are monstrous'. Of course his parents can't hear, but the cinema usher can, and she hurries down the aisle to ask him to be quiet."

Mark Ford in The Times Literary Supplement reviews Once and For All: The Best of Delmore Schwartz.

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