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Angoff, Charles


ANGOFF, CHARLES (1902–1979), U.S. novelist and editor. Born in Russia, Angoff was taken to the U.S. as a child and began his writing career in the 1920s. He assisted H.L. Mencken, whose attitudes about Jews were variable, in editing the American Mercury and in 1934 succeeded him as editor. Angoff 's first book, Literary History of the American People (2 vols., 1931), surveyed the period from 1607 until 1815, but his qualities were best revealed in his fiction. He first ventured into this field with a series of short stories based on his own experiences: Adventures in Heaven (1945), When I was a Boy in Boston (1947), and Something about My Father and Other People (1956). Only in the 1950s, however, did Angoff emerge as a writer of real significance, recording the saga of East European immigrant Jewry's integration into American society. His most notable achievement was a series of autobiographical novels centering on his alter ego, David Polonsky: Journey to the Dawn (1951), In the Morning Light (1952), The Sun at Noon (1955), Between Day and Dark (1959), The Bitter Spring (1961), Summer Storm (1963), In Memory of Autumn (1968), Winter Twilight (1970), and Season of Mists (1971). With sympathy and fidelity Angoff weaves into the story of his hero a whole gallery of American-Jewish types, ranging from the Yiddish-speaking immigrants at the turn of the century to their Americanized descendants of the post-World War ii era, stung to new Jewish awareness by the Holocaust and Israel. He also wrote a book of poems entitled The Bell of Time (1967) and a volume of essays, The Tone of the Twenties (1966). In 1957 Angoff became an editor of the Literary Review. He wrote a frank treatment of a former literary idol and his old associate in H.L. Mencken: A Portrait from Memory (1956). He also published Prayers at Midnight, consisting of 26 original prayers in the form of "prose poems." In 1969 Angoff was elected president of the Poetry Society of America and subsequently reelected for a second term as president. In 1970, he published, with Meyer Levin, an important anthology of selections from American-Jewish novels, The Rise of American Jewish Literature.


S. Liptzin, Jew in American Literature (1966), 199–209.

[Sholom Jacob Kahn]

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