Wednesday, August 18, 2010

“More demanding than most of what passes for scholarship”

The year after the publication of Romantic Image, Kermode became professor of English at Manchester University, where he worked until 1965. From then on, he gave much of his energy to the writing of reviews and essays. Some of those from the late 1950s and the 60s were collected and published in Puzzles and Epiphanies (1962) and Continuities (1968). It is strange to think that the New Statesman and the Spectator once published pieces as freighted with reading as these. Kermode himself wrote in the introduction to the latter volume that any literary journalism that was able to satisfy non-specialist interests “without loss of intellectual integrity” was “more demanding than most of what passes for scholarship”.

R.I.P. Frank Kermode (1919–2010), one of the few contemporary literary scholars with a genuine sense of the duties of a public intellectual, and one of the very few I actually enjoyed reading.

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