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Hugh Kenner (William Hugh Kenner) Biography

(1923–2003), (William Hugh Kenner), Paradox in Chesterton, The Poetry of Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis

pound study writers modernist

Canadian critic, born in Peterborough, Ontario, educated at the University of Toronto and at Yale. After holding a succession of academic posts he became Franklin Professor and Callaway Professor at the University of Georgia. Paradox in Chesterton (1947), his first critical study, was followed by The Poetry of Ezra Pound (1951), which affirmed that poet's importance when his reputation was at its nadir; Wyndham Lewis (1954); and The Invisible Poet (1959), an interpretation of T. S. Eliot's work. Kenner is widely considered the pre-eminent critical commentator on literary Modernism, particularly since The Pound Era (1971); its comprehensive treatment of Pound and his circle was described by Guy Davenport as amounting to ‘a new kind of book in which biography, history, and the analysis of literature are … harmoniously integrated’. Notable among his many other works are The Stoic Comedians (1962), a study of the fictions of Flaubert, Joyce, and Beckett; A Homemade World (1975), on twentieth-century American modernist writers; and A Colder Eye: The Modern Irish Writers (1983). In A Sinking Island (1988), a provocative analysis of British literature from 1895 to the 1980s, Kenner argues that the vitality of the modernist tradition has been supplanted by a resumption of bourgeois literary mediocrity. Mazes (1989) and Historical Fictions (1991) are collections of his essays. His works as an editor include The Translations of Ezra Pound (1970). Chuck Jones: A Flurry of Drawings (1994) is a biography of the celebrated cartoonist.

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