John Hollander Biography


(Poets and Poetry in America)

John Hollander was born on October 28, 1929, in New York City, the son of Franklin Hollander, a physiologist, and Muriel (Kornfeld) Hollander. Hollander traces his family roots to the Kabbalist Rabbi Loew of Prague, Czechoslovakia, in “Letter to Jorge Luis Borges” from The Night Mirror. He was graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in 1950 and an M.A. in 1952, and he completed his Ph.D. at Indiana University in 1959. Hollander was married to Anne Loesser on June 15, 1953; the couple were divorced in 1977. He has two children, Martha and Elizabeth. He married Natalie Charkow in 1981.

After earning his master’s degree, Hollander went to Harvard University as a junior fellow in the Society of Fellows (1954-1957). His academic career continued when he accepted the post of lecturer in English at Connecticut College (1957-1959). He was an instructor at Yale University (1959-1966), taught at Hunter College (1966-1967), and was visiting professor at the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies (1965). He served as associate editor for poetry for the Partisan Review in 1970-1971 and was a contributing editor for Harper’s during the same period. In 1977, Hollander returned to Yale, where he served as A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of English (1986-1995) and Sterling Professor of English (1995-2003). After retirement, he became Sterling Professor Emeritus.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

John Hollander is a poet, critic, and editor as well as a university professor (now retired), whose extensive knowledge and use of past literary forms, as well as the extreme difficulty of much of his poetry, distinguishes him from most American poets of his time. He was born to Franklin Hollander, a physiologist, and Muriel (Kornfeld) Hollander in New York, a city that figures prominently in his poetry.

Hollander earned an A.B. in 1950 and a M.A. in 1952 from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1959. He married Anne Loesser in 1953, with whom he had two daughters, Martha and Elizabeth. He joined Harvard University as a junior fellow in 1954, remaining until 1957, when he moved to Connecticut College as a lecturer in English. It was during this period that his first book of poems was published. The famous poet W. H. Auden selected A Crackling of Thorns for publication in the Yale Series of Younger Poets and contributed an introductory essay to the volume. The book immediately established Hollander as an important figure in American poetry.

In 1959, Hollander joined the English department of Yale University, where he would stay until 1966, and to which he would return in 1977 after more than a decade teaching at Hunter College of the City University of New York. During the 1960’s, he published five volumes of poetry, including two—A Book of Various Owls and The Quest of the Gole—for juvenile readers. Also during that decade, he established himself as an important literary critic with The Untuning of the Sky, about the relationship between music and poetry. In addition, he began his career as a prolific editor, teaming with Harold Bloom to edit The Wind and the Rain, a collection of poetry for young readers; with Anthony Hecht, inventing a comic poetic form called the double dactyl and presenting a compendium of the form in Jiggery-Pokery; editing Selected Poems of Ben Jonson, one of the earlier poets most influential in Hollander’s own poetry; and gathering a collection of essays by twentieth century poets and critics for Modern Poetry. His accomplishments earned him a National Institute of Arts...

(The entire section is 907 words.)