Hugh Kenner, author of The Pound Era, A Reader’s Guide to Samuel Beckett, Joyce’s Voices, and many other classics of late 20th century literary criticism, passed away yesterday:
Hugh Kenner, Commentator on Literary Modernism, Dies at 80 (NYT)
Hugh Kenner, critic of literary modernism, dead at 80 (AP)
Kenner’s combination of superhuman industriousness and riotous sense of humor will be hard to match. My favorite Kenner book has always been A Colder Eye: The Modern Irish Writers, with its funny index:
Andersen, Hans C., vitalist, 269
Ardilaun, Lord, cautious philanthropist, 211-212
Beckett, Samuel, immobilist, 9, 28, 29 . . .
Beerbohm, Max, depictor, 77, 94
Behan, Brendan, boozer, 9, 324
I bonded with Kenner when I was an undergraduate because, in addition to being a literary critic, he was, like me, a computer nut. I still remember how I discovered that fact. I was in a bookstore and saw the Heath/Zenith Z-100 User’s Guide on the shelf with the name Hugh Kenner on the title page. Could it be? I opened the book and read the first line:
We are expert at all manner of things.
Yep, I thought: same guy.
I think it’s a safe bet that Kenner’s book is the only computer manual in the Ransom collection.
Browsing through the Kenner books on Amazon I discover one, The Elsewhere Community, which I’ve never seen before. Perfect for that annoying Chicago-based literary blogger on your list.
Feedstering tonight, I turned up a few more comments on Kenner’s death from the blogosphere. Kind of an “instant Festschrift,” if you will.
Hugh Kenner, RIP (Hit and Run)
R.I.P. Hugh Kenner (Fred Sampson)
Hugh Kenner (Splinters)
Hugh Kenner (Languagehat)
In Memoriam Hugh Kenner (Aether)
Hugh Kenner, R.I.P. (About Last Night)