Adam Kirsch

The Individual Soul

Writing the story of the Holocaust is a futile ambition—not because the events of 1939 to 1945 are too horrible to be told, but because they are too v

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Brushes with Jewishness

Is there a Jewish Art? Such questions are very familiar in modern Jewish cultural debates; they are regularly asked about Jewish writers. With the vis

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The Inner Clamor

Alfred Kazin’s Journals Selected and edited by Richard M. Cook (Yale University Press, 598 pp., $45)  “As a man is, so he sees. As the eye is formed, such are its powers.” Alfred Kazin reveled in William Blake’s words in 1944, at the age of twenty-nine, as he stood in the Huntington Library turning the pages of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. When he described this epiphany in New York Jew, the third volume of his memoirs, Kazin clearly wanted the reader to be swept up, as he was, by the sovereignty of the Blakean self: “All is within the vaulting leaping mind of man,” he continues.

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The Self-Made Man

The nameless narrator of Lawrence Douglas’ new novel seems cut out to be the butt of an academic satire. Like so many fictional professors before him—

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The Wendy Chronicles

Wendy Wasserstein may not belong in the ranks of the greatest American Jewish writers, but like Neil Simon before her, she helped to popularize the Je

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Holy Plots

It stands to reason that the new paperback edition of Damascus Gate should be as timely as the original. In fact, the identity of past and present is

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Nobody looks into his heart and sees an Eichmann lurking there. And this inability to match up our self-knowledge with our historical knowledge is the

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The Pale King By David Foster Wallace (Little, Brown, 548 pp., $27.99) Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will By David Foster Wallace (Columbia University Press, 252 pp., $19.95) Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace By David Lipsky (Broadway Books, 320 pp., $16.99) I. Today we think of the 1920s as a golden age of American fiction. But to Edmund Wilson, looking back in 1944, the most striking thing about this modern generation, which he did more than any critic to foster, was its failure to reach full development.

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In many ways, René Blum might be compared to Lincoln Kirstein, the founder of the New York City Ballet. Both were artistically inclined sons of prospe

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At this point, the twenty-first-century Jew—like the Protestant and the Catholic, anyone whose religion views the Bible as holy writ—has two simple ch

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