Study Guide

Obituaries

Obituaries Essay - Obituaries (Vol. 91)

Obituaries (Vol. 91)

Kingsley William AmisApril 16, 1922–October 22, 1995English novelist, poet, critic, essayist, nonfiction writer, short story writer, and journalist

Kingsley William Amis April 16, 1922–October 22, 1995 English novelist, poet, critic, essayist, nonfiction writer, short story writer, and journalist

Because of his acerbic wit and iconoclastic attitude toward many aspects of modern society, Amis influenced and became identified with the post-World War II group of working-class British writers known as the "Angry Young Men." Jim Dixon, the disgruntled hero of Amis's first novel Lucky Jim (1954), became for many readers a symbol of rebellion against the conservative establishment. As his career progressed, however, Amis began to shock liberal admirers with his increasingly reactionary social and political observations. Although the object of his satirical comedy remained social manners and mores, in particular cultural snobbishness, in his later period Amis focused his pessimistic yet comic scrutiny on many modern trends. His intense anti-feminist rhetoric in Stanley and the Women (1984) offended many English critics and made American publishers reluctant to distribute the novel. "You can't make nasty remarks, or humorous or critical remarks, about a group without seeming to be attacking it," Amis complained in a 1986 interview. "Look at the things I'm supposed to have attacked: universities, Americans, women, young people, old people…. I mean, you wouldn't bother to be critical about something which you didn't like to start with." His other writings include Take a Girl Like You (1960), New Maps of Hell (1961), The Green Man (1969), Jake's Thing (1978), Memoirs (1991), and You Can't Do Both (1994). [For further information on Amis's life and career, see CLC, Volumes 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 40, and 44.]

Toni Cade BambaraMarch 25, 1939–December 9, 1995American short story writer, novelist, scriptwriter, editor, and author of children's books

Toni Cade Bambara March 25, 1939–December 9, 1995 American short story writer, novelist, scriptwriter, editor, and author of children's books

Lauded for her insightful depictions of African-American life, Bambara focused on contemporary political, racial, and feminist issues in her writing. Initially recognized for her short fiction, she later garnered critical acclaim for her work in other literary genres and other media. Beverly Guy-Sheftall stated that Bambara's "particular vision—as a teacher, writer, mother, world traveler, social critic, community worker, and humanist—can provide alternative ways perhaps of viewing certain aspects of [African-American] culture." Gorilla, My Love (1972), Bambara's most widely-read volume, collects short stories she wrote between 1959 and 1970. Focusing largely on the developmental experiences of young people, Gorilla, My Love includes the popular and often-anthologized tales "Raymond's Run" and the title story. In a 1979 interview with Sheftall, Bambara explained her preference for short stories: "I prefer the short story genre because it's quick, it makes a modest appeal for attention, it can creep up on you on your blind side." Eleanor Traylor, chairperson of the English department at Howard University, described Bambara as "quite skilled and adept in the use of language as an unmasking element as well as a revealing element. Her allusions are ancient, drawn from the entire ancient world—Greece, Africa, Asia and from the Native American and African American heritage." [For further information on Bambara's life and career, see CLC, Volumes 19 and 88.]

Brigid Antonia BrophyJune 12, 1929–August 7, 1995Anglo-Irish novelist, critic, essayist, journalist, short story writer, and dramatist

Brigid Antonia Brophy June 12, 1929–August 7, 1995 Anglo-Irish novelist, critic, essayist, journalist, short story writer, and dramatist

With her first novel, Hackenfeller's Ape (1953), Brophy won praise for her wit and creative use of language. The novel depicts a scientist whose attempts to civilize an ape result in problems both for himself and the ape. Her novel Flesh (1962) examines eccentricities of human behavior by depicting the transformation of an introverted young man into a hedonist. These novels, along with The Snow Ball (1964), a comedy of manners that parallels themes in Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, established Brophy as a critic of middle-class morality and hypocrisy. Like George Bernard Shaw, whom she once acknowledged as a major influence, Brophy wrote social criticism with the moral intent of promoting a better world. Brophy's style has been compared with the satirical elegance of Ronald Firbank, who was the subject of Brophy's critical biography, The Prancing Novelist (1973). The work that generated the most critical commentary, however, was Fifty Works of English and American Literature We Could Do Without (1967), in which she collaborated with her husband, art historian Michael Levey, and Charles Osborne of London Magazine. While critics agreed that a few of the classics "debunked" in the study were unworthy of the high literary status they enjoyed, they also derided the trio's reliance on facetious analysis based on subjective opinion. Brophy's other works include The Finishing Touch (1963), Palace without Chairs: A Baroque Novel (1978), A Guide to Public Lending Right (1983), and Baroque 'n' Roll, and Other Essays (1987). [For further information on Brophy's life and career, see CLC, Volumes 6, 11, and 29.]

Emil M. CioranApril 8, 1911–June 20, 1995Rumanian-born philosopher and essayist

Emil M. Cioran April 8, 1911–June 20, 1995 Rumanian-born philosopher and essayist

Considered a master of the personal, unsystematic philosophical discourse exemplified in the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, Søren Kierkegaard, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, Cioran posited a comprehensively pessimistic view of existence and was particularly censorious of Western civilization. Primarily an essayist and aphorist, he sought to subvert conventional thought on such topics as alienation, consciousness, history, language, literature, religion, and death. In Précis de décomposition (1949; A Short History of Decay) he suggested that Western society is in irrevocable decline, its decay abetted by religion—or any cause—that inflames passions which inspire people to persecute dissenters or start wars. La tentation d'exister (1956; The Temptation to Exist) continues his exploration of the downfall of societies and includes commentaries on such topics as mystics, exile, and the history of the Jewish people. Cioran surveyed political regimes throughout history in Histoire et utopie (1960; History and Utopia) and concluded that all forms of government are fatally flawed. Civilization, he maintained, has hastened ruin by dissipating humanity's violent instincts, and therefore its vitality. Critic Daniel Stern remarked: "[Cioran] is the creator of a curving pessimism so profound and ironic as to almost meet a serious optimism at the other end of its arc. His aphorisms are lucid medicines that have no intent to cure. Thus, pure …, they are valuable remedies for the mind." [For further information on Cioran's life and career, see CLC, Volume 64.]

Donald Alfred DavieJuly 17, 1922–September 18, 1995English poet, critic, editor, and translator

Donald Alfred Davie July 17, 1922–September 18, 1995 English poet, critic, editor, and translator

Davie was well respected for both his creative and his critical contributions to contemporary literature. His belief that the poet "is responsible to the community in which he writes for purifying and correcting the spoken language" is evidenced by the classical formalism of his first volume of poetry, The Brides of Reason (1955), and is the focus of his first critical work, The Purity of Diction in English Verse (1952). In The Purity of Diction, Davie argues for a return to the prose-like syntax, formal structures, and conservative metaphors of the eighteenth-century Augustan poets. In the 1950s Davie was associated with the Movement, a group of poets including Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis, and Thom Gunn who believed in the importance of these qualities. In contrast to English poets of the 1940s who were influenced by imagism and symbolism, the Movement poets emphasized restrained language, traditional syntax, and the moral and social implications of poetic content. Describing the appeal of Davie's poetry, critic John Lucas explained that "Davie is very readable, perhaps because his literary, donnish qualities compel him to take the reader seriously, so that although you often feel talked at you never feel talked down to." Davie's editor Michael Schmidt said, "He will be remembered as a man who stood up for poetry at a time when it needed defending." Davie's notable collections include Essex Poems (1969), In the Stopping Train (1977), and To Scorch or Freeze (1988). [For further information on Davie's life and career, see CLC, Volume 5, 8, 10, and 31.]

Michael EndeNovember 12, 1929–August 28, 1995German novelist, screenwriter, film critic, and actor

Michael Ende November 12, 1929–August 28, 1995 German novelist, screenwriter, film critic, and actor

Best known for his children's fiction, Ende was the author of the international best seller The Neverending Story, first published in 1979 and filmed in 1984. He took up writing in the late 1950s after failing to make a career of acting, and produced his first children's book, the award-winning Jim Knopf and Lukas the Locomotive Engineer, in 1960. Ende produced The Neverending Story while living in self-imposed exile near Rome. While serving as an advisor during the filming of the book, he became displeased with the adaptation and divorced himself from the project. [For further information on Ende's life and career, see CLC, Volume 31.]

Gavin EwartFebruary 4, 1916–October 23, 1995English poet and editor

Gavin Ewart February 4, 1916–October 23, 1995 English poet and editor

Ewart was known as a skilled writer of light verse. He began writing poetry while a student at Wellington College and published his first book, Poems and Songs, in 1939. After serving in England's Royal Artillery in World War II, he did not produce another work until Londoners in 1964. From then on he maintained a steady output, producing work often described as technically masterful. His major poems are collected in The Gavin Ewart Show: Selected Poems, 1939–1985 and Collected Poems: 1980–1990. [For further information on Ewart's life and career, see CLC, Volumes 13 and 46.]

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Walter Braden FinneyOctober 2, 1911(?)–November 16, 1995American novelist

Walter Braden Finney October 2, 1911(?)–November 16, 1995 American novelist

Finney, who published under the name Jack Finney, is best known for his second novel, The Body Snatchers, which was published in 1955 and served as basis for the classic science fiction film The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). Time and Again (1970), a time-travel thriller, also proved widely successful; its sequel, From Time to Time (1995), appeared shortly before Finney's death. Time and Again was also adapted for film, as were a number of Finney's other works, including Five against the House (1954), Assault on a Queen (1959), and Good Neighbor Sam (1963)....

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Charles GordoneOctober 12, 1925–November 17, 1995American dramatist, actor, and director

Charles Gordone October 12, 1925–November 17, 1995 American dramatist, actor, and director

Gordone's second produced play, No Place to Be Somebody (1970), won the Pulitzer Prize, making him the first African-American author to be so honored. The play generated much critical and popular attention for its polemical treatment of racial issues. A lifelong social and political activist, Gordone continued to write and direct plays and later taught English and theater at Texas A&M University. No Place to Be Somebody remains his best-known and most influential work. [For further information on Gordone's life and career, see CLC, Volumes 1 and 4.]

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Jane KenyonMay 23, 1947–April 23, 1995American poet

Jane Kenyon May 23, 1947–April 23, 1995 American poet

Kenyon was the poet laureate of New Hampshire, where she had lived on a farm for the past two decades. Her poems often address such themes as domesticity, the rhythms of rural life, suffering, mental illness, and spirituality. Critics have described her work, which ranges from short narratives to meditations, as melancholic and introspective. Her works include: From Room to Room (1978), The Little Boat (1986), Let Evening Come (1990), and Constance (1993).

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Howard KochDecember 12, 1901–August 17, 1995American screenwriter, radio writer, playwright and memoirist

Howard Koch December 12, 1901–August 17, 1995 American screenwriter, radio writer, playwright and memoirist

Best known for his work as co-writer of the screenplay to the film Casablanca (1942), Howard Koch also wrote the radio adaptation of H. G. Wells's classic The War of the Worlds (1898) which caused a nationwide panic when broadcast by Orson Welles in 1938. After graduating from Columbia University, Koch began working as a lawyer, writing stage plays in his spare time. By the early 1930s he moved to radio, writing for Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater of the Air. In the 1940s Koch began writing for films, joining Warner Bros. to work on such films as The Letter...

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Andrew LytleDecember 26, 1902–December 12, 1995American novelist, essayist, and magazine editor

Andrew Lytle December 26, 1902–December 12, 1995 American novelist, essayist, and magazine editor

One of the founding members of the literary group known as the Agrarians, Andrew Lytle was a novelist whose best known works include The Long Night (1936), At the Moon's Inn (1941), A Name for Evil (1947), and The Velvet Horn (1957). Lytle was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a city founded by his ancestors, and attended Vanderbilt University, Oxford University, and Yale's School of Drama. As a struggling young writer, Lytle supported himself by acting in New York. In 1930 he contributed an essay on the small farm to the anthology I'll Take My Stand. The book...

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Louis MalleOctober 30, 1932–November 23, 1995French film director and screenwriter

Louis Malle October 30, 1932–November 23, 1995 French film director and screenwriter

Louis Malle was among the most prominent and successful directors to emerge from the so-called "New Wave" of French cinema in the late 1950s and early 1960s. His work is characterized by the combination of apparently dissimilar impulses: one toward provocation and the disturbance of the audience—which he tried to achieve by tackling such controversial themes as child prostitution, incest, suicide, and collaboration with the Nazis—and one toward romance and nostalgia for the lost innocence of childhood. Among his best known films are The Lovers (1958), Le feu follet (1963), Le souffle au...

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Vladimir Yemelyanovich MaximovDecember 9, 1930–March 26, 1995Russian short story writer, novelist, playwright, and journalist

Vladimir Yemelyanovich Maximov December 9, 1930–March 26, 1995 Russian short story writer, novelist, playwright, and journalist

A leading Russian journalist and dissident during the late Soviet era, Maximov began his writing career in 1961 with a literary anthology that included the short story "Man Is Alive," a work that was successfully adapted for the stage. In 1968, while working as a journalist on the Soviet literary review Oktyabr, he resigned in protest over the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and was expelled from the Soviet Writers' Union and stripped of his citizenship in 1975. After moving to Paris, Maximov founded Continent, a Russian literary review that published...

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Edith PargeterSeptember 20, 1913–October 15, 1995English novelist, short story writer, travel writer, and translator

Edith Pargeter September 20, 1913–October 15, 1995 English novelist, short story writer, travel writer, and translator

A prolific writer in a variety of genres, Pargeter achieved her greatest popularity with the medieval mystery novels she wrote under the pseudonym Ellis Peters. These mysteries feature the character Brother Cadfael, a twelfth-century Benedictine monk and former worldly layman who uses his secular experience, great intellect, and uncanny powers of observation to rescue young lovers who have become enmeshed in crimes at Shrewsbury Abbey. Set in her home town in western England, the Cadfael stories—which began in 1977 with A Morbid Taste for Bones and ended, some...

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John PatrickMay 17, 1905–November 7, 1995American playwright and screenwriter

John Patrick May 17, 1905–November 7, 1995 American playwright and screenwriter

Pulitzer Prize and Tony award-winning American playwright of Teahouse of the August Moon (1953), Patrick authored more than 1000 dramas for NBC Radio during the 1930s and more than 30 stage plays, including the popular Curious Savage (1950), Hasty Heart (1945), and the 1969 comedy Love Is a Time of Day. As a Hollywood screenwriter his credits include the screen adaptation of Teahouse of the August Moon (1956), Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (1955), High Society (1956), which is the musical adaptation of Philip Barry's The...

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Donald Eugene PendletonDecember 12, 1927–October 23, 1995American novelist

Donald Eugene Pendleton December 12, 1927–October 23, 1995 American novelist

Pendleton's The Executioner: War Against the Mafia (1969) became the first of 38 novels in the "Executioner" series, virtually inventing the genre of the modern action-adventure novel. The main character, Mack Boland, went on to become the protagonist of over 150 more novels written by a variety of authors. Pendleton also created two detective series; one followed the exploits of the psychic detective Ashton Ford, while the other followed Joe Copp, a private detective. Writing under the pseudonyms Stephan Gregory and Dan Britain, Pendleton also published The Sex Goddess (1967), Religion and the Sexual...

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Kenule Beeson Saro-WiwaOctober 10, 1941–November 10, 1995Nigerian playwright, poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, and author of children's books

Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa October 10, 1941–November 10, 1995 Nigerian playwright, poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, and author of children's books

Saro-Wiwa is best known for his acute, often humorous, satires of Nigerian life in which he attacks such social ills as corruption, inefficiency, materialism, and the lack of rights for minorities. One of his most popular works was the television soap opera Basi & Co., which Saro-Wiwa both wrote and produced. The series concerns a group of lazy young men in Lagos who spend their time devising schemes for becoming rich. Saro-Wiwa also wrote a series of books, known as "The Adventures of Mr. B.," based on the characters from the...

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