After a time of sickness and suffering, Irving Howe, in the year before his death, regained an animating interest in life. For a while, free of the grim paraphernalia of doctoring and hospitals, he gained shelter. His spirits revived, and he went back to work. His pleasure in anecdotes and jokes, in meditative conversations about literature returned, although there was a new kind of quiet in him and a strain of melancholy, the permanent memento of those who have spent months being taught pain and the body’s helplessness.
He was not simply sad. After re-reading Proust that year, he spoke about Remembrance...
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