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D. J. Enright (Dennis Joseph Enright) Biography

(1920–2002), (Dennis Joseph Enright), The Laughing Hyena, Addictions, The Terrible Shears, Sad Ires, Paradise Illustrated

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British poet, born in Leamington, Warwickshire, educated at Downing College, Cambridge. From 1947 onwards he taught at universities in Egypt, Japan, Germany, Thailand, Singapore, and Leeds. In 1971 he joined the publishers Chatto and Windus, becoming a director in 1974. His first collection, The Laughing Hyena (1953), was followed by a succession of volumes which include Addictions (1962), The Terrible Shears (1973), Sad Ires (1975), Paradise Illustrated (1978), A Faust Book (1979), Collected Poems (1981), Selected Poems (1990), The Way of the Cat (1992), and Old Men and Comets (1993); Under the Circumstances (1991) is a volume of ‘poems and proses’. In A Faust Book, Enright exemplifies his characteristic ability to combine a theological seriousness with irreverent humour. His experiences of Egypt and the Far East provided material for many of his earlier poems, in which a sense of cultural detachment unites with an understated compassion in his quizzical and ironic reflections on human behaviour. Stylistically, Enright's poetry possesses an eloquent quality which is not diminished by an occasionally conversational tone. His prose autobiography, Memoirs of a Mendicant Professor (1969), is supplemented by Instant Chronicles: A Life (1985), a volume of autobiographical poetry of considerable candour and wit. Among his other prose works are The World of Dew: Aspects of Living Japan (1959), and the novels Academic Year (1955) and Insufficient Poppy (1960). As a critic and literary essayist Enright's publications include The Alluring Problem: An Essay on Irony (1986) and Fields of Vision: Essays on Literature, Language, and Television (1988). Among the works he has edited are Poets of the Fifties (1955), an early anthology of the Movement; The Oxford Book of Contemporary Verse: 1945–1980 (1980), in which he hoped ‘to shake the notion that British poetry of the period has been discreditably or pitiably provincial or parochial’; and The Oxford Book of the Supernatural (1994). Life by Other Means (1990, edited by Jaqueline Simms) is a festschrift of essays marking Enright's seventieth birthday and the breadth of his contribution to literature.

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