Frank Kermode, 1919-2010

Frank-Kermode-006Alison Flood in the Guardian:

Widely acclaimed as Britain’s foremost literary critic, Sir Frank Kermode died yesterday in Cambridge at the age of 90.

The London Review of Books, for which the critic and scholar wrote more than 200 pieces, announced his death this morning. Kermode inspired the founding of the magazine in 1979, after writing an article in the Observer calling for a new literary magazine.

Prominent in literary criticism since the 1950s, Kermode held “virtually every endowed chair worth having in the British Isles”, according to his former colleague John Sutherland, from King Edward VII professor of English literature at Cambridge to Lord Northcliffe professor of modern English literature at University College London and professor of poetry at Harvard, along with honorary doctorates from universities around the world. He was knighted in 1991, the first literary critic to be so honoured since William Empson.

A renowned Shakespearean, publishing Shakespeare’s Language in 2001, Kermode’s books range from works on Spenser and Donne and the memoir Not Entitled to last year’s Concerning EM Forster.

His publisher, Alan Samson, at Weidenfeld & Nicolson said Kermode would probably be most remembered for The Sense of An Ending, his collection of lectures on the relationship of fiction to concepts of apocalyptic chaos and crisis, first published in 1967, as well as for Romantic Image, a study of the Romantic movement up until WB Yeats.

Samson published Kermode’s most recent book, Concerning EM Forster, last year. Forster, who also died aged 90, gave the Clark lectures at Cambridge in 1927, which led to his seminal book of literary criticism, Aspects of the Novel. Kermode delivered the Clark lectures 80 years later, in 2007, and worked with Samson to turn them into a book. The pair had been discussing a further title, about TS Eliot, following a lecture Kermode gave at the British library, but “now this will never happen, sadly”, said Samson.

[H/t: David Schneider]