National Obituary Review

Dead Person of the Day – January 3 – Guy Davenport

0 Comments 04 January 2013


I believe we uncovered a lost classic with today’s DPD. If you’re familiar with Guy Davenport pin a rose on your nose. If not, you could have met me last night in the fiction section of the Boston Public library getting giddy on spiked hot chocolate and neo realism fiction. (Just fyi for all the readers out there getting a good buzz at the library can be a fun time if you’re not a jerk). But moving on.

Guy Davenport was an American writer, translator, illustrator, painter, intellectual, and teacher. He experimented with moles and was said to be a pioneer in developing self haircutting gadgets.

In 1944, Mr. Davenport quit high school to study art at Duke University. Back then you didn’t have to graduate high school to get into college. You just needed a number 2 pencil and an inquisitive attitude.

He eventually majored in classics and English literature, and won a Rhodes Scholarship in 1948. At Oxford he wrote the first thesis on Joyce to be accepted by the university. And its rumored that it was all on merit with absolutely NO buggery. You know how those brits can get…especially back in those days.

After serving from 1950 to 1952 in the Army’s 18th Airborne Corps he taught at Washington University in St. Louis and reportedly drank a good amount of Budweisers. A meeting with Ezra Pound in 1952 solidified his interest in modern literature and led him to write his thesis on Pound’s “Cantos,” which helped to highlight Pound’s poetic achievement in the face of his mental problems, support of fascism and all around bat shit lunacy which we all look back on with regret.

When asked what inspired him to be a teacher Davenport responded:

“I never intended to be a teacher I just like going to school and learning things”

You see! We need more of that in America these days. People wanting to go to school to learn stuff. Imagine that.

Finally In 1990 he received a so-called genius grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for his short fiction and essays linking American civilization with the traditions of classical and European culture. Which he said  came to him while reading an Archie comic

People, its DPDs like this that inspire me to do great things like make a sandwich with lettuce AND cheese. I hope it does the same for you.

Now come and get it!

Guy Davenport Dies at 77; Prolific Author and Illustrator
Published: January 7, 2005

Guy Davenport, a many-sided author, painter, teacher and scholar whose work, while ranging from critical essays to translations to poetry, was perhaps most admired for short stories in the modernist tradition of Pound and Joyce, died on Tuesday in Lexington, Ky. He was 77 and lived in Lexington, where he taught English at the University of Kentucky for three decades. Continue

- who has written 512 posts on The Shade.

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