Literary Critic Frank Kermode Dead at 90

Shakespeare expert was Britain's most celebrated critic

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 19, 2010 4:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Britain's most acclaimed literary critic has died aged 90. Sir Frank Kermode—described as "the finest English critic of his generation" by author David Lodge—analyzed everything from Shakespeare to Kurt Vonnegut to the Bible in a writing career that spanned 70 years, the New York Times reports. Kermode rose from humble origins to senior teaching positions at universities in both the US and Britain.

Kermode was praised for his accessible writing style. His best-known work, 1967's The Sense of an Ending, explored the relationship between the structure of fiction and a world that often seems chaotic. "He knew he was smarter than everyone else, but he was this pipe-smoking, beguiling man who listened to what you had to say," his publisher tells the Guardian. "It's the wreath of pipe smoke, and the benign smile and wisdom, which I'm really going to miss."

He knew he had exceptional gifts, but there was a modest manner about him, Kermode's publisher says.
"He knew he had exceptional gifts, but there was a modest manner about him," Kermode's publisher says.   (Shutter Stock)
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He was a trans-Atlantic critic. The wide history and scope of his work, from John Donne to yesterday, was unusual because most people stick to a single century.
He had a broad appeal. - Helen Vendler, a poetry critic and professor at Harvard University

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