Remembering Irving Howe

Remembering Irving Howe

Not long ago Irving told me of a pact he and Alfred Kazin had made: whichever one died first would not be eulogized by the other. As it turned out, Kazin breaks the pact in these pages, as Irving would no doubt have done for him.

Their similar backgrounds notwithstanding, these two men never did warm much to each other. It was a matter of temperament, not character. In evidence, I offer an anecdote. While the neocons were riding high, Kazin, probably through some postal quirk, received an invitation to one of their conferences. He accepted, attended, and wrote a rollicking account of the affair. We read it, and after our laughter subsided, I expressed my admiration for the piece. Irving implored me to write Kazin a note saying how much pleasure this essay, along with so many others, had given me.

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Lima