Joseph Wood Krutch


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born in Tennessee, graduated from the state university (1915), served in World War I, and received his Ph.D. from Columbia (1923). He was long on the faculty of Columbia (1925–31, 1937–52) and on the editorial staff of The Nation (1924–52) mainly as a drama critic. His books include Edgar Allan Poe: A Study in Genius (1926), an analytical biography employing psychoanalysis; The Modern Temper (1929), a pessimistic analysis of contemporary life, by a “modern intellectual” who finds that science has destroyed his faith in a beneficent universe, and psychology his belief in his own nobility, so that he “finds only in the pursuit of knowledge that which makes life worth living”; Five Masters: A Study in the Mutations of the Novel (1930), an analysis of Boccaccio, Cervantes, Richardson, Stendhal, and Proust, to determine whether their greatness springs from the life of their times or from an essential universality; Experience and Art (1932); Was Europe a Success? (1934); The American Drama Since 1918 (1939); scholarly biographies, Samuel Johnson (1944) and Thoreau (1948); “Modernism” in Modern Drama (1953); and The Measure of Man (1954), a return to the themes of The Modern Temper, with a humanistic plea for “Moral Discourse.” After he moved to Arizona many of his books dealt with natural history, the Western scene, and a humanist's view of man and his environment, including The Desert Year (1952), The Best of Two Worlds (1953), The Great Chain of Life (1957), Human Nature and the Human Condition (1959), and The Forgotten Peninsula; A Naturalist in Baja California (1961). More Lives Than One (1962) recalls his varied experiences.

Subjects: Literature.

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