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R.I.P. Paul Fussell

By Harriet Staff

The New York Times reports that literary critic Paul Fussell passed away on Wednesday at the age of 88.

From the Times:

His stepson Cole Behringer said he died of natural causes in the long-term care facility where he had spent the last two years.

From the 1950s into 1970s, Mr. Fussell followed a conventional academic path, teaching and writing on literary topics, specializing in 18th-century British poetry and prose. But his career changed in 1975, when he published “The Great War and Modern Memory,” a monumental study of World War I and how its horrors fostered a disillusioned modernist sensibility.

“The Great War,” a work that drew on Mr. Fussell’s own bloody experience as an infantryman during World War II, won both the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism and the National Book Award for Arts and Letters.

“It is difficult to underestimate Fussell’s influence,” Vincent B. Sherry wrote in “The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the First World War.” “The book’s ambition and popularity move interpretation of the war from a relatively minor literary and historical specialization to a much more widespread cultural concern. His claims for the meaning of the war are profound and far-reaching; indeed, some have found them hyperbolic. Yet, whether in spite of or because of the enormity of his assertions, Fussell has set the agenda for most of the criticism that has followed him.”

Full obit after the jump. Here’s the HuffPo’s obituary, too.


Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, May 24th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.