- Category : Writers-Critic
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Rulership 1
American writer, a critic, essayist, novelist and short story writer.
A philosophy major, he was immersed in the radical atmosphere of the later '30s. In 1941 he began his doctoral studies, at the same time publishing his first story in The New Republic.
Isaac Rosenfeld was born in Chicago to immigrant parents, Sam and Miriam (Dubin) Rosenfeld. He and his two sisters grew up in a Yiddish-speaking, lower-middle-class environment on Chicago’s West Side. The early death of his mother left him with a permanent sense of loss and longing.
Rosenfeld’s lifelong friend, Saul Bellow, remembers him reading an essay on Schopenhauer to the high school debate club. Rosenfeld went on to major in philosophy at the University of Chicago. He became immersed in the radical milieu of the late 1930s when "politics was form and substance, accident and modification, the metaphor of all things." In 1941, he received his Master of Arts degree from the University of Chicago and began doctoral studies at New York University. During the same year he published his first story in "New Republic." He eventually left the university to join the magazine as a regular contributor and then assistant editor in 1943. A few months later, he took a totally different direction, spending the rest of the war as an East River barge operator.
He stayed in New York for ten years. His next move was to the University of Minnesota, where he taught for a while. He finally returned to the University of Chicago as a literature instructor.
His critical reviews showed intelligent, calm, confident strength. He followed no precise methodology, but had a talent for grasping the essence of the book under discussion. Rosenfeld’s fiction held much promise. In 1945 he won the Dial Press "Partisan Review" novelette contest with "The Colony." The next year brought his only published novel, "Passage From Home," a largely autobiographical story of a boy philosopher. During the late 1940s he began to work on another novel, "The Enemy," which was rejected when it was completed in 1951. Profoundly affected by this rejection, he wrote less in his last years.
Rosenfeld married Vasiliki Sarantakis in 1941, with whom he had two children, Eleni and George. Later, he and his wife divorced. On the verge of resigning from his position at the University of Chicago, he died suddenly on 07/14/1956 at age 38, of a heart attack. He was alone in a seedy furnished room that was infested with cockroaches that he refused to kill. He was a round-faced, heavyset man who loved to clown and mimic.
He is remembered at least as much for his legendary life and personality, which symbolized the alienation and despair felt by many, as for his writings, published mainly after his death. In 1962, "Criticism - an Age of Enormity: Life and Writing in the Forties and Fifties" was published posthumously. "Alpha and Omega," a collection of short stories, was published in 1966.