Leslie A. Fiedler was an American literary critic, novelist, and poet during the height of the Cold War. In his most famous work, Love and Death in the American Novel (1960), Fiedler argued that morbid fixation with death and violence had become an outlet for sexual aggression in the American novel. He declared, "Our literature as a whole … seems a chamber of horrors disguised as an amusement park 'fun house’.…”
The son of a pharmacist, Fiedler grew up in Newark, New Jersey, where he attended public high school before graduating from New York University with a degree in English. He went on to earn an MA and a PhD in English literature at the University of Wisconsin in 1939 and 1941, respectively. Following his graduation, Fiedler served as a military cryptologist and Japanese interpreter during World War II and completed postgraduate work at Harvard University. After the war, he taught at Montana State University and then became a professor of English at SUNY Buffalo.
Often praised for his extroverted, unapologetic literary persona, Fielder also earned considerable recognition for his work in fictional prose and poetry. He held a Rockefeller fellowship, two Fulbright fellowships, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was also the recipient of numerous awards, including the Furioso Poetry Prize in 1957 and the Hubbell Medal for Lifetime Contribution to the Study of American Literature from the Modern Language Association in 1994.