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Roger Shattuck, 1923-2005

New Criterion

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Editor's note. Although perhaps unknown to some readers of Orthodoxy Today, Roger Shattuck's book "The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France, 1885 to World War I" ranks as a great read along the lines of "The Shock of the New" by Robert Hughes.

It is with sadness that we note the passing of our friend Roger Shattuck, teacher, poet, essayist, and literary observer par excellence. Roger was the sort of man-of-letters one reads about but scarcely encounters any more: literary to his fingertips, but graced with manly common-sense and instinctive independence of mind: a gentleman in the highest sense of that retired epithet. Roger was never part of any school or clique or movement. He regarded fads like deconstruction with amused distaste: something to hold one's nose about while disposing of it quickly and with as little comment as possible. His most famous book, in some ways his best, was also his first: The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France, 1885 to World War I (1958), a quirky, seductive, utterly original romp through the work of Henri Rousseau, Alfred Jarry, Erik Satie, and Guillaume Apollinaire. Roger made connections -- made sense -- out of themes and continuities that no one had sensed before but that now seem obvious. Roger's mind was omnivorous, as at home in anthropology and moral philosophy as it was in literature. He wrote on Proust; on "the Wild Boy of Aveyron," the feral child discovered in France in the nineteenth century; and all manner of literary controversy and incident.

Read the entire article on the New Criterion website (new window will open).

Posted: 09-Jan-06



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