Bernard De Voto


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Utah-born professor of English at Northwestern University (1922–27) and Harvard (1929–36), later edited The Saturday Review of Literature (1936–38), and occupied the “Easy Chair” of Harper's (1935–55). As Literary Editor of the Mark Twain Estate he issued previously unpublished manuscripts as Mark Twain in Eruption (1940) and Letters from the Earth (1962). His own studies of the writer include Mark Twain's America (1932) and Mark Twain at Work (1942). His study of “the continental experience,” a trilogy on the impact of the West on the American mind, is contained in The Course of Empire (1952), about discovery and exploration from the 16th century to the 19th; Across the Wide Missouri (1947, Pulitzer Prize), about the Rocky Mountain fur trade; and The Year of Decision: 1846 (1943). Other studies of American ideas include Forays and Rebuttals (1936), Minority Report (1940), and The Easy Chair1955), collections of forthright essays; and The Literary Fallacy1944), criticizing American authors of the 1920s for holding aloof from vital experience. His novels include The Crooked Mile (1924); The Chariot of Fire (1926); The House of Sun-Goes-Down (1928); We Accept with Pleasure (1934); Mountain Time (1947); and lesser fiction under the name John August. A collection of Letters (1975) was edited by Wallace Stegner, who also wrote a biography (1974).

Subjects: Literature.

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