Literary Obituary: Gabriel García Márquez

The death of Gabriel García Márquez yesterday at the age of 87 closes an era of literary history. There’s a fair chance that when somebody looks at your dates, a few centuries from now, they’ll place you as living in the age of García Márquez. I resisted reading García Márquez for a long time, till I was about 30, even though he was a dominant figure of my lit-major undergraduate…

UTA English Obituary: Emory Estes

When I moved into the Chair’s office in the far corner of 203 Carlisle Hall, in 2002, the first person to visit me in my new digs was Emory Estes. I was barricaded behind the Chair’s desk, staring blankly at the blank wall in front of me. “TIM!” said Emory. “I was sitting in that VERY spot when I had my HEART attack!” Thanks, Emory, I thought. Thanks for the…

Literary Bicentenary: Goncharov

Ivan Alexandrovich Goncharov was born on 18 June 1812 (adjusting for the vagaries of the Russian calendar). Today is his 200th birthday. Goncharov wrote Oblomov, and Oblomov made Goncharov’s reputation forever. Very few writers in world literature have been so identified with a single iconic character. In fact, very few literary characters have become so iconic. Not being Russian, I can’t begin to understand the depths to which Oblomov (and…

Literary Bicentenary: Robert Browning

Robert Browning was born on 7 May 1812; today is his 200th birthday. Like many readers’, my first exposure to Browning was “My Last Duchess.” It is probably the most-orally-interpreted poem ever written, and for good reasons, despite its omnipresent familiarity. Sir, ‘t was all one! My favour at her breast, The dropping of the daylight in the West, The bough of cherries some officious fool Broke in the orchard…

Literary Obituary: Adrienne Rich, 1929-2012

It’s an old-fashioned, an outrageous thing To believe one has a “destiny” — a thought often peculiar to those who possess privilege — but there is something else:   the faith of those despised and endangered that they are not merely the sum of damages done to them [Sources (1983)] No short passage could sum up the vast and various intellectual work of poet/essayist Adrienne Rich, but that short piece from a…

Literary Bicentenary: Charles Dickens

English Matters began with a 300th-birthday tribute to Samuel Johnson in 2009, and makes its belated-phoenix reappearance today to mark the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens on Tuesday 7 February. Like Dr. Johnson, Charles Dickens is a huge figure in English studies, so large and various that it’s practically impossible to sum him up. You know an author is great when other great writers spend so much time dissing him.…

Literary Centenary: Margaret Wise Brown

Margaret Wise Brown, one of the most distinguished American writers for very young children, was born on 23 May 1910, making this month her centenary. (She died in 1952.) I was cruising past the impulse-buy section at a chain-bookstore checkout the other day, and I saw a display full of wallet-sized board-book editions of Brown’s Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny. These two books in particular seem so archetypal in our…

Tier One Comes to UTA

I got a phone call this morning from my friend Chaim Knott, Executive Associate Vice Provost for K-20 Initiatives here at UTA. “Hey Tim,” said Chaim. “I really can’t talk right now.” “You called me, Chaim. What’s up?” I said. “Can I tell you something in confidence?” asked Chaim. “Of course not,” I said. “I’m a blogger. Anything you tell me will be lunchtime reading across the globe later today.”…

Literary Sesquicentenary: Anton Chekhov

Today is the 150th anniversary of the birthday of Anton Chekhov, Russian playwright and fiction writer who died in 1904 of the tuberculosis that afflicted him for much of his adult life. Chekhov followed his own illness with some interest, because his day job was physician. Just as in the case of the attorney Wallace Stevens, a professional training and career didn’t prevent Chekhov from becoming a great literary artist.…

UTA English Obituary: Simone Turbeville

Simone Turbeville, who died on 27 December 2009, was a long-time Associate Professor in the English Department at UTA – though it’s a measure both of the ephemerality of life and the huge turnover here in the past decade that few reading this obituary will remember her. It’s important to mark such passings – maybe more important to mark them than those of academics who get awards or professorships or…