In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories
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In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  334 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Eight stories portray the world of the New York intellectual during the 1930's and 1940's, probing the conflict between ambitious, educated youths and their immigrant parents.
Paperback, 202 pages
Published April 1st 1978 by New Directions Publishing Corporation (first published January 1st 1938)
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Ian Paganus
Bi-Partisan Preview

I was introduced to Delmore Schwartz's writing from two different perspectives in the mid-70's.

It might come as little surprise that these introductions had to do with passions that persist to this day: music, literature and politics.

Firstly, I discovered that Schwartz had been one of Lou Reed's lecturers at Syracuse University and was the inspiration for his Velvet Underground song, "European Son".

Secondly, in 1976, I located the back issues of the political and literary maga...more
Sep 16, 2013 Fewlas rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Fewlas by: Saul Bellow
Shelves: americana, racconti
Grazie a Il Dono di Humboldt di Saul Bellow sono venuta a conoscenza di Delmore Schwartz, scrittore e poeta che ha appunto ispirato il protagonista del libro di Bellow, Von Humboldt Fleischer. Siccome quest’ultimo mi aveva affascinato moltissimo (come solo i protagonisti che nascono dalla penna di Bellow riescono a fare), ho deciso di leggere qualcosa di questo personaggio che, ho in seguito scoperto, ha influenzato moltissimi, da Bellow a Lou Reed, da Lowell a Berryman.
In questa raccolta si tr...more

My obit for Lou Reed gives Delmore a shout-out and gives the title story some particular love:

Title story was- and is- immortal. The rest of it is kind of a slog.

Very disappointing, since I love his poetry and there just seems to be more legend than masterpieces for poor Delmore. I've heard such extraordinary things about him secondhand: comments and eulogies and tributes from Lou Reed, John Berryman, Saul Bellow...anyone who can get those three critic...more
I got this book of short stories by Depression Era writer Delmore Schwartz specifically to read the title story "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities" because I couldn't find it on the internet. Luckily I found it at the library. I'm realizing the less you pay for books the better, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either a) an idiot b) a publisher or c) someone who works at Anderson's on Chatsworth Avenue in Larchmont. Yo Anderson's Higherups, are you insane? You're prices are ridiculous and yo...more
Darran Mclaughlin
A great collection of short stories. I first heard of Schwartz because I'm a big fan of the Velvet Underground. Lou Reed was taught by Schwartz in college and he was the biggest inspiration Reed had as a young man. I then found out that he was an influence in later Jewish American writers like Philip Roth and Saul Bellow, he was written about by John Berryman in the Dream Songs and Bellow's Humboldt's Gift was based on him. He's clearly a pretty serious cult writer. The stories are very good. Th...more
The wickedness of delusion and pastoral dreamscapes intersect with the beating heart of the young person's desire to make yr own way, the spirit of seeing the world through two wide-open eyes and a dash of hope for a world more tolerant. I always come back to the stories contained herein. Why? Just because.
What a (belated) discovery! Schwartz's characters and prose style are thoroughly compelling. More often spoken of as a poet, I think, his stories nonetheless have quite a reputation. They are quite narrowly focused; the children of the (largely Eastern European Jewish) immigrants who came over from 1890-1915 have by the 1930s set out to disappoint their parents' aspirations for them to become doctors and dentists and have instead embraced the life of penniless writers and intellectuals. Eventual...more
The title story is a forgotten gem - simple in the telling, but prompting all kinds of philosophical reality/imagination specualtion. We're used to the metaphor now that life can be like a movie: Schwartz came up with it before anyone else I know. Some of the other stories took longer to make an impression on me. However, 'America! America!' subtly probes different perspectives and the nature of Jewish immigrant experience in early twentieth century America and the satire of 'The World Is A Wedd...more
Alex V.
I'll temper this rating by saying I only read the first/title story in this collection and the final one, "Screeno", to get a taste. Both stories are about movies and the act of going to the movies and the act of action and a general theory of projections and a confounding of dreams and not-dreams and how the fabric of our self-understanding is a dense plaid woven of all these things.

And in both stories I read, the fabric rips and no matter how good you think you might be at sewing, you can alw...more
"The world is a marriage of convenience," said Laura drunkenly, "the world is a shot-gun marriage. The world is a sordid match for money. The world is a misalliance. Every birthday is a funeral and every funeral is a great relief."

File under: the way you want to imagine America.
If you like J.D.'s Nine Stories, I suspect you'll enjoy these. How did these stories get lost in the shuffle?
So far burn full painful. Done reading. tears...
Grady Ormsby
I'm one of those English majors Garrison Keillor keeps teasing about. So how come it's taken me so long to discover Delmore Schwartz? In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories is a collection of eight stories set in New York City in the 30's and 40's. In what is purported to be thinly disguised autobiography, Schwartz develops a fascinating assortment of characters, many the children of immigrants who have social, political, cultural and financial goals that are vastly different than th...more
Trevor John
After a tedious intro from Lou Reed writing in his pretentious queen voice and the standard over-effusive dramatics from his biographer, you get the great title story and then, the rest. While the author may have captured the obnoxious antics of young depression era intellectuals and perhaps felt he was delivering profound truths, I just got annoyed. Maybe there was a time and place when people talked the way they talked in these stories, or maybe not. It felt young and didactic to me, but I was...more
Diana Skelton
"My mother and father lean on the rail of the boardwalk and absently stare at the ocean. The ocean is becoming rough; the waves come in slowly, tugging strength from far back. The moment before they somersault, the moment when they arch their backs so beautifully, showing green and white veins amid the black, that moment is intolerable."

"Since he was an author of a certain kind, he was a monster to them. They would be pleased to see his name in print and to hear that he was praised at times, but...more
Charles Cohen
What was fascinating about this book was that the people who were in their 20's and 30's during the Great Depression had the same sense of betrayed entitlement that afflicts people in that age range today. These stories are filled with lazy men living with their parents, mooching as long as possible until their overly generous mother dies, or an irate sibling punches them repeatedly. It's not to say that every 25-year-old living with her parents is lazy - the economic realities then and now make...more
Hmmm... maybe Delmore Schwartz was not the right author to read as I got ready for a family reunion but I can see why he is so highly regarded.

In his tales, America, the city, and the family are expansive yet narrow, limitless yet stifling. Schwartz writes about the emotional distance between immigrant Jewish parents and their children, the complexities of identity, and the sheer ridiculousness and futility of human existence. The precision of his prose and the alienation in his tales can make t...more
could I give this four and a half stars? story telling of a different order. Particularly liked the tale of the clutch of drifting writers during the depression and the woman who supported them, her alternating between worship and resentment. The spooling tales of their disaffectedness, disappointments, disaffections, and the philosopher of the group who took time off from his schedule of wandering his accustomed haunts to pronounce on a sentence he read: "the World is a Wedding".
Just delved into this collection of short stories. Steve Seidel, director of Project Zero at Harvard, mentioned the title story in a lecture I recently heard him give, and it piqued my interest. Not sure anyone reads Schwartz much anymore, but the first story in the collection, the title story, was and interesting, surreal depiction of a man dreaming about his parents' courtship. I'm still working on theories about how the story relates to the title. More on this one later.
This is a collection of short stories written about 1930s New York. Many of the characters are Jewish or middle class and often are simple stories about families, young people trying to figure out what to do with themselves post-college, or random somewhat surreal stories. I found out about this book through the "Rough Guide to Cult Fiction" and think it makes a good addition to my growing amount of short story collections.
Joe Hunt
This book changed my life -- honestly.

The title one is about watching his mother and father, on a movie screen. (Kind of like Sharon Olds' "I go back to May...")

I think there's some poems in there--although it says "Other Stories." (Unless I'm mixing up.)

He is interesting: alternating funny and serious.
Ruby  Tombstone [Uncensored or Else]
This reading of the story by Leonard Nimoy is fan-fucking-tastic!

Selected Shorts: NPR Selected Shorts - In Dreams..

Gessy Alvarez
Delmore Schwartz stories and poems are overwhelmingly honest. His style is classic, almost academic, yet there are surprising turns in the narrative with sentences written in a sweeping minimalist style standing comfortably next to the lyrical.
"Don't do it! It's not too late to change your minds, both of you. Nothing good will come of it, only remorse, hatred, scandal, and two children whose characters are monstrous."

Five-stars for the title story, 3-3.5 for the others . . .
Jake M
This isn't the latest edition - new version came out from ND this year with Lou Reed's intro which is pretty great. Here's more on this:
Daniel Levesque
One of my favorite books of all time. "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities" forever changed the way I look at the short story/novella, as well as the rules of language. Oh, Delmore.
I heard Leonard Nimoy read the title story aloud at the Getty Center and it was mesmerizing. If you get a chance to hear it on Selected Shorts, it's worthwhile!
Sometimes I wonder if every story I try to write is just a pale imitation of the title story here. It's one of my longterm favorites.
May 18, 2012 Brian marked it as didnt-finish
lou reed is a favorite of mine. this is lou reed's mentor, however this writing is simply way too dry for me to stay interested.
I believe this guy taught Lou Reed... but that ain't just what makes him good. I thought the stories were tragic and alive.
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Delmore Schwartz was born December 8, 1913, in Brooklyn. The marriage of his parents Harry and Rose, both Roumanian immigrants, was doomed to fail. Sadly, this misfortune with relationships was also a theme in Schwartz's life. His alcoholism, frequent use of barbiturates and amphetamines, and battles with various mental diseases, proved adverse in his relationships with women. His first marriage t...more
More about Delmore Schwartz...
Selected Poems: Summer Knowledge Last and Lost Poems Screeno: Stories & Poems The Ego is Always at the Wheel: Bagatelles Successful Love and Other Stories

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“Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.”
“What was the freedom to which the adult human being rose in the morning, if each act was held back or inspired by the overpowering ghost of a little child?” 2 likes
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