“In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” was straight, beautiful, haunting. It was a little masterpiece that used up a man’s whole life before he had lived it. It was the greatest fable I was ever to read of “our experience.” It was the one work of Delmore Schwartz’s life that had the power of a dream and it remains with me as if I had dreamed it myself.
In invoking “our experience,” Kazin is referring back to his description of the story as “the classic story of the Jewish son unable to escape the history represented by his family.” I don’t share that experience, but nevertheless Kazin perfectly encapsulates my feelings about the story in writing: “it remains with me as if I had dreamed it myself.” If you haven’t yet read Schwartz’s story, I urge you to do so.
I’d heard of Alfred Kazin before of course, but I think that this essay is the first bit of his work that I’ve read. Given our accord on the jewel of Schwartz’s oeuvre, I anticipate finding much of interest as I read my way through the rest of this collection of Kazin’s critical writings.