EPITAPHS OF OUR TIMES by Edward Dahlberg


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The title is a bit pretentious and universal for a book that is essentially modest and personal. After years of neglect, Dahlberg has attracted a hard knot of admirers who now contend that he is an American original. They will surely find this book attractive since it embellishes his public image of himself. This is a collection of Dahlberg's letters addressed to literary eminences as varied as Robert Hutchins and Josephine Herbst, Sir Herbert Read and Theodore Dreiser (who did not at first reply), Allen Tate and William Carlos Williams. He continually bemoans his lack of recognition, his poverty, his illnesses, his despondency; he reports his impressions of the various places he visits; he advises his nephew on the intellectual life; he solicits favors for critical notice (and promises the latter in return); he hates his enemies and he loves his friends. The trouble is that all this outflow of emotion and opinion just does not take on a consistency that separates criticism from vituperation, integrity from opportunism and value from solipsism. Only occasionally is the style distinguished for, like Joyce, Dahlberg saves his best prose for his books.

Publisher: Braziller