EDITH KURZWEIL

Obituary
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KURZWEIL--Edith.

1924 - 2016, a Viennese-born scholar, who served as the final editor of Partisan Review, died February 6, four days after suffering a stroke. She was 91. Born into a family of privilege, her adolescence was marked by hardship that faced all Jews living in Austria after the Anschluss. As a twelve-year-old she witnessed the devastation of Kristallnacht first hand before undertaking a two-year odyssey through war-torn Europe. Separated from her parents, she was compelled to shepherd her younger brother John through Belgium, France, Spain and Portugal - often surviving for days at a time on little more than bread and bananas - before securing passage on the New York-bound S.S. Excalibur in 1940. Newly arrived in the United States, she worked as a milliner, tailor's apprentice, and diamond cutter by day, and attended high school at night. Her scholarly life - as an expert on, among other things, psychoanalysis and French Structuralism - only began after the untimely death of her second husband, Robert Kurzweil, in 1966. That was when she returned to school, eventually earning a Ph.D. in sociology from the New School for Social Research, where she would later serve on its Board of Governors. In 1973, she met, worked with, and eventually married, William Phillips, one of the two founding editors of Partisan Review. The National Endowment of the Humanities honored Kurzweil with its highest award, the National Humanities Medal, in 2003. Professor Kurzweil is survived by her three children Ronald Schmidt, Vivien Schmidt, and Allen Kurzweil, two stepsons, Peter and Leonard Kurzweil, her brother John Weiss, and a cherished grandson, Maximilian Kurzweil.

Published in The New York Times from Feb. 8 to Feb. 21, 2016