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G. S. Fraser (George Sutherland Fraser) Biography

(1915–80), (George Sutherland Fraser), The Fatal Landscape, The White Horseman, Home Town Elegy


Scottish poet and critic, born in Glasgow, educated at St Andrew's University. He was a journalist in Aberdeen until 1939, when he joined the Black Watch regiment; some of his most memorable poems are derived from his extended periods on active service in the Middle East. After working in various capacities, principally as a literary journalist, he became a lecturer at the University of Leicester. At the time of the appearance of his first collection of poems, The Fatal Landscape (1941), Fraser was numbered among the writers of the New Apocalypse and wrote an introduction for The White Horseman (1941), the group's second anthology, edited by J. F. Hendry and Henry Treece. His early verse had, however, a degree of clarity and poise that distinguished it from the more turbulently expressive writing commonly associated with the movement. Home Town Elegy (1944) and The Traveller Has Regrets (1948) contained the war poetry upon which his reputation was principally established; the repeatedly anthologized ‘Egypt’ is a good example of the sceptically elegiac tone, precise imagery, and formal control characterizing the best of his work. Two further volumes, Leaves without a Tree (1956) and Conditions (1969), were followed by Poems of G. S. Fraser, a posthumous collected edition, in 1981. Fraser was widely respected as a critic for the judiciousness and generosity of his writings, which include The Modern Writer and His World (1953), Vision and Rhetoric (1960), and Ezra Pound (1961), which increased interest in that poet at a time when his achievement was somewhat neglected. Fraser's other works include the travel book News from South America (1949) and the autobiographical A Stranger and Afraid, written in 1949 but not published until 1983. Among his translations is Jean Mesnard's Pascal: His Life and Works (1952). With J. Waller, he edited The Collected Poems of Keith Douglas (1951).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Samuel Foote Biography to Furioso