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Thursday, 19 August 2010

The Sense of an ending: Frank Kermode Has Died

Sad news.  Frank Kermode, one of the greatest of English-language literary critics, has died, aged 90.  Kermode, along with A. Alvarez, William Empson, Leavis, Ricks, and a handful of others, managed to make 20th century British criticism - while more elegant and fathomable than its continental counterparts - as interesting, engaged, and vibrant as any body of such work anywhere.  Kermode's writing was brilliant, to be sure, and inspiring, and I found many of his books and essays a significant part of my growing-up process as a writer, poet, reader, and critic.  Especially major, to my mind, was his book The Sense of an Ending.  Also important, for me, and others, of course, were The Romantic Image, Wallace Stevens (the first serious English approach to this American master), and his History and Value, based on the Clarendon lectures.  His more recent work include d last years revisionary take on EM Forster.  English letters has lost one of its signal geniuses, one with an appetite for poetry.
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