Tony Tanner Biography
(1935– ), The Reign of Wonder: Naivety and Piety in American Literature
British critic, born at Richmond in Surrey, educated at Jesus College, Cambridge. In 1964 he became Director of English Studies at King's College, Cambridge, and was appointed Professor of English and American Literature at Cambridge in 1989. The Reign of Wonder: Naivety and Piety in American Literature (1965), his first major critical work, investigates the quality of wonderment as an essential characteristic of American literature from the era of the Trancendentalists to the Modernism of Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and others. City of Words: American Fiction, 1950–1970 (1970), which established his reputation in the vanguard of contemporary criticism, examines the ethical and aesthetic dilemmas of various post-war American authors and considers the development of ‘style as a defensive strategy’. His other publications include Adultery in the Novel (1979), Henry James (1985), Jane Austen (1986), and the wide-ranging collection of essays entitled Scenes of Nature, Signs of Men (1987). Among the numerous texts Tanner has edited are Henry James's Hawthorne (1968) and Hermann Melville's Moby-Dick (1988).