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September 16, 2019

"In Dreams Begin Responsibilities" — Delmore Schwartz


Schwartz was perhaps best known for the above-cited short story.

Read it here.

Wrote his biographer, James Atlas:

Schwartz wrote "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities" over a July weekend in 1935, when he was only twenty-one.

A day later, his friend William Barrett appeared at the boarding house off Washington Square where Schwartz was living that summer and found the author ecstatic; he knew he had written a masterpiece, a verdict later confirmed by Vladimir Nabokov, who singled [the story] out as one of his "half a dozen favorites" in contemporary American literature.

From Wikipedia:

The story was first published in 1937 in the first issue of Partisan Review.

A year later it was published in Schwartz's first book of poems and stories which was also entitled "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities."

The title came from the Irish poet W. B. Yeats' 1914 volume of poems Responsibilities, which has an epigraph "In dreams begins responsibility," attributed to an "Old play."

The story has been available in print since the author's death in two posthumously published collections of Schwartz's work, "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories" (1978) and "Screeno: Stories and Poems" (2004).

In a 2003 review of "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories" that appeared in The Observer, Jason Cowley wrote, "[Schwartz] never wrote a finer story than 'Dreams.'"

Schwartz died in 1966 at 52, a down-and-out alcoholic who struggled with mental illness.

September 16, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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