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This article is taken from PN Review 230, Volume 42 Number 6, July - August 2016.

Delmore Schwartz, Again Florian Gargaillo
Once and for All: The Best of Delmore Schwartz, edited by Craig Morgan Teicher
(New York: New Directions, 2016). UK Reprint, W. W. Norton & Co., 2016.

ONCE AND FOR ALL gathers a selection of poems, short stories, verse dramas, essays, and letters by Delmore Schwartz – remarkably, in just under three hundred pages. The book is pitched as a recuperative effort. From the back: ‘This volume aims to restore Schwartz to his proper place in the canon and introduce new readers to the breadth of his achievement.’ In his note, the editor, Craig Morgan Teicher, hopes that ‘readers will be able to gain a broad, if not complete, understanding of Delmore Schwartz the literary artist’. The implication being that most of the attention paid to Schwartz since his death has been of a biographical nature. Evidently, the introduction by John Ashbery is meant to give this literary homecoming additional weight.

Even if we resist the sentimentality with which they were so often depicted, Schwartz’s life and career were indeed tragic in many ways. After the success of his first book, In Dreams Begin Responsibilities (1938), Schwartz’s fame entered a quick decline. For several years he devoted himself to a failed epic, Genesis: Book One (1943), about the family history of Hershey Green, a stand-in for Schwartz himself. None of his later work in any genre achieved the readership he had won, briefly, with his first book, and he died in relative obscurity in 1966, wracked by mental illness.

It is certainly ...

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