Wednesday, August 20, 2008

signed copy of ATD

…from Chronicle of Higher Education:

M.H. Abrams: A Life in Criticism

In literary studies, M.H. Abrams is an iconic name. It appeared as "general editor" for 40 years on nearly nine million copies of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, and has also, in a detail that only scholars would know, led the indexes of many a critical book for a half-century. (In fact, one scholar I know cited "Aarlef" just to avoid that custom.) In addition, Abrams, now 95, stamped the study of Romantic literature: His book The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition (Oxford University Press, 1953) was ranked 25th in the Modern Library's list of the 100 most important nonfiction books of the 20th century, and he was a prime participant in debates over literary theory, especially deconstruction, during the 1970s and 80s.

Last summer I interviewed Abrams — Meyer Howard, but he goes by Mike — at his home in Ithaca, N.Y., up the road from Cornell University, where he has been a professor since 1945 and still goes to his office in Goldwin Smith Hall. Colleagues at Cornell had held a birthday celebration for him, and among the gifts was an inscribed copy of Thomas Pynchon's latest novel. Pynchon had been a student of Abrams's in the 1950s and sent it on. Abrams has the book on the coffee table in his living room.