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Frank Kermode (John Frank Kermode) Biography

(1919– ), (John Frank Kermode), Romantic Image, The Classic, The Genesis of Secrecy

english literature theory academic

British scholar and critic, born in Douglas, Isle of Man, educated at the University of Liverpool. Among other academic posts, he was appointed King Edward VII Professor of English at Cambridge in 1974. His principal academic field is the English Renaissance, but he is widely known as a reviewer of great range. His Romantic Image (1957) was an influential rethinking of the aesthetic theory and practice of the French Symbolists and the Anglo-American Modernists. His later work, like The Classic (1975) and The Genesis of Secrecy (1979) (see Hermeneutics), often started out as lecture series, and retained the fluent, speculative, open style of the mode of discussion. The Sense of an Ending (1967), a brilliant exploration of fictions of finality, anticipated much reader-response theory and narratology by reintroducing the notions of time and narrative into a criticism which had for some two decades privileged spatial metaphors. (See also Apocalyptic Literature). Kermode was influential in furthering the consideration of Structuralism in the English-speaking world, and in making connections between the arts of theological and literary interpretation. His agile intelligence and his thoughtful curiosity, combined with his resistance to dogmas of all kinds, made him an unusual figure in contemporary literature, at least until the arrival of the New Historicism. Since its inception in 1979 he has been a member of the advisory board of the London Review of Books. He has edited the Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot (1975) and, with Robert Alter, The Literary Guide to the Bible (1988), and in 1990 published The Uses of Error.

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