Felix Paul Greve

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Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Frederick Philip Grove was born Felix Paul Greve on February 14, 1879, in Radomno, Prussia. Grove’s most effective fictions were a result of the first thirty years of his life. His parents were middle-class citizens of Hamburg, and he attended the University of Bonn for a few years before dropping out for financial reasons and embarking on a career as a freelance writer and translator. Grove may have known André Gide and others in turn-of-the-century Paris literary circles, and he certainly did write and publish poetry, fiction, and even drama in addition to his literary criticism and extensive translation.{$S[A]Greve, Felix Paul;Grove, Frederick Philip}

Grove’s migration to North America, in 1909 or 1910, provided him with new subject matter for his fiction. Whether he rode the rails as an itinerant workman, as he often said, is open to question. Most certainly he could have done so for only a year or two, and not for the much longer period suggested in A Search for America and reiterated in his autobiography. One can only speculate about his reasons for coming to America and for adopting so elaborate a disguise—of name, of parentage, even of the year of his birth. Perhaps he wished to transcend his modest social station, or to elude the law or creditors—Grove had spent a year in a Bonn prison for fraud—or perhaps to escape a constraining marriage.

In 1912, Grove was hired as a public schoolteacher in rural Haskett, Manitoba, which was the first of several appointments in a rather unhappy career that lasted fifteen years. In the summer of 1914, he married Catherine Wiens, a teacher in a school where he had become principal. They had a daughter and a son. The daughter’s death in 1927, when she was only eleven, climaxed a string of difficulties besetting Grove in the 1920’s, difficulties caused by the backward and often intolerant communities in which he found himself employed, by his own ill temper and inflexibility toward the rural mentality, by overwork and chronic financial hardship, and, perhaps most of all, by the erratic and ultimately unencouraging response of publishers and readers to his books.

In the late 1920’s, Grove’s fortunes turned somewhat as he became championed by a small but loyal and influential group of Canadian writers and academics. Increasing critical recognition of his work led to two lecture tours in 1928, to a brief career in the publishing business from 1929 to 1931, and to Grove’s receiving the prestigious Lorne Pierce Medal of the Royal Society of Canada in 1931. Meanwhile, Grove had left teaching and settled with his wife and son on a small farm near Simcoe, Ontario, where he lived until his death. Although his writing never made him much money, it won him growing acclaim. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1941, received several honorary degrees, and was given a lifetime grant of one hundred dollars per month by the Canadian Writers Foundation in 1944. A stroke that year left him partly paralyzed, and he died in 1948.

Biography

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Frederick Philip Grove was born Felix Paul Greve on February 14, 1879, in Radomno, Poland—on what was then the border with Prussia. Grove’s most effective fictions were a result of these first thirty years of his life. His parents were middle-class citizens of Hamburg, and he attended the University of Bonn for a few years before dropping out for financial reasons and embarking on a career as a freelance writer and translator. Grove may have known André Gide and others in early twentieth century Paris literary circles, and he certainly did write and publish poetry, fiction, and even drama in addition to his literary criticism and extensive translation.

Grove’s migration to North America, in 1909 or 1910, provided for him a new source of subject matter for his fiction. Whether he rode the rails as an itinerant workman, as he often said, is open to question. Most certainly he could have done so for only a year or two, and not for the much longer period...

(The entire section is 1,017 words.)