NEW YORK -- Author Irving Howe, 72, who used the English he learned on the streets and the socialism he embraced in the Depression to become one of America's foremost critics, died yesterday at Mount Sinai Hospital of a ruptured aorta.
He was an old-fashioned, anti-Stalin left-winger, whose 1976 book, "World of Our Fathers," chronicled Jewish immigrant life in New York. It won the National Book Award.
In addition to writing on politics, literature and sociology, he was editor of Dissent, a 10,000-circulation political quarterly he founded in 1953. In the magazine's pages, he battled the New Left, a movement of the 1960s and 1970s that he considered authoritarian, intolerant and violent. In 1987, he was named a fellow of the MacArthur Foundation, receiving a no-strings $375,000 "genius" award.
Reviewing Mr. Howe's "Selected Writings," which appeared in 1990, Fordham University scholar Walter Kendrick called him "one of our most prolific, provocative commentators on literature and politics."
Another reviewer, David Rieff, said, "Howe has one of the finest minds this country has produced."
Mr. Howe was professor emeritus of English at Hunter College and the City University Graduate Center.