"A strong foe is better than a weak friend.""Always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter. Walt Disney Every decision you make is a mistake.""Ambition is a Dead Sea fruit, and the greatest peril to the soul is that one is likely to get precisely what he is seeking.""Every decision you make is a mistake.""Genius, like truth, has a shabby and neglected mien.""Herman Melville was as separated from a civilized literature as the lost Atlantis was said to have been from the great peoples of the earth.""It takes a long time to understand nothing.""Man hoards himself when he has nothing to give away.""Men are mad most of their lives; few live sane, fewer die so. The acts of people are baffling unless we realize that their wits are disordered. Man is driven to justice by his lunacy.""So much of our lives is given over to the consideration of our imperfections that there is no time to improve our imaginary virtues. The truth is we only perfect our vices, and man is a worse creature when he dies than he was when he was born.""The Americans have always been food, sex, and spirit revivalists.""The ancients understood the regulation of power better than the regulation of liberty.""The bad poet is a toady mimicking nature.""The machine has had a pernicious effect upon virtue, pity, and love, and young men used to machines which induce inertia, and fear, are near impotent.""To write is a humiliation.""We can only write well about our sins because it is too difficult to recall a virtuous act or even whether it was the result of good or evil motives.""We cannot live, suffer or die for somebody else, for suffering is too precious to be shared.""What most men desire is a virgin who is a whore.""When one realizes that his life is worthless he either commits suicide or travels.""Writing is conscience, scruple, and the farming of our ancestors."
Edward Dahlberg was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Elizabeth Dahlberg. Together mother and son led a vagabond existence, until 1905 when she operated the Star Lady Barbershop in Kansas City. In April 1912 Dahlberg was sent to the Jewish Orphan Asylum, in Cleveland, Ohio, where he lived until 1917. He eventually attended the University of California, Berkeley (1922—23) and Columbia University (B.S. in philosophy. 1925).
He enlisted in the Army in 1918, amidst the last few weeks of World War I. In the late 1920s Dahlberg became part of the expatriate group of American writers living in Paris. His first novel, Bottom Dogs, based on his childhood experiences at the orphanage and his travels in the American West, was published in London with an introduction by D. H. Lawrence. With his advance money, Dahlberg returned to New York City, resided in Greenwich Village. He visited Germany in 1933 and in reaction briefly joined the Communist Party, but left the Party by 1936. From the 1940s onwards, Dahlberg made his living as an author, and also taught at various colleges and universities. In 1948, he taught briefly at the experimental Black Mountain College. He was replaced by his friend and fellow author, Charles Olson, on the faculty of Black Mountain College.
He was an expatriate writer of the 1920s, a proletarian novelist of the 1930s, a spokesman for a fundamental humanism in the 1940s. For a number of years, Dahlberg devoted himself to literary study. His extensive readings of the works of Dante, Shakespeare, Thoreau, andmany others, resulted in a writing style quite different from the social realism that characterized his earlier writing.
He moved to the Danish island of Bornholm in 1955 while working on The Flea of Sodom. The Sorrows of Priapus was published in 1957, becoming his most successful book thus far. He later moved to Mallorca, while working on Because I Was Flesh, an autobiography which was published in 1964. During the 1960s and 1970s, he became quite prolific and further refined his unique style through the publication of poetry, autobiographical works, fiction, and criticism.
He married R'Lene LaFleur Howell in 1950. In 1968 he was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1976, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Dahlberg died in Santa Barbara, California, on February 27, 1977.