Tuesday, July 17, 2007

David Daiches

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David Daiches
Daiches on the cover of Two Worlds and Promised Lands
September 2, 1912Sunderland, England
July 15, 2005Edinburgh, Scotland
Literary critic, scholar,
Writing period:
1935 - 1994
English and Scottish literature and culture
Debut works:
The Place of Meaning in Poetry
David Daiches (September 2, 1912July 15, 2005) was a Scottish literary historian and critic, scholar and writer. He wrote extensively on English and Scottish literature and Scottish culture.
1 Early life
2 Career
3 List of published works
4 References

[edit] Early life
He was born in Sunderland, England, in a Jewish family with a Lithuanian background. He moved to Edinburgh while still a young child, about the end of World War I, where his father, Rev. Dr. Salis Daiches became a prominent rabbi. He studied at George Watson's College and won a scholarship to University of Edinburgh where he won the Elliot prize, and went on to Balliol College, Oxford where he became the Elton exhibitioner.
Daiches is the father of Jenni Calder, also a Scottish literary historian. His brother was the prominent Edinburgh QC Lionel Daiches.

[edit] Career
During World War II, he worked for the British Embassy in Washington, DC, producing pamphlets for the British Information Service and drafting (and delivering) speeches on British institutions and foreign policy.
Daiches first published work was The Place of Meaning in Poetry, published in 1935. He was a prolific writer, producing works on English literature, Scottish literature, literary history and criticism as well as the broader role of literature in society and culture. His The Novel and the Modern World (1939) was well-received and his expertise on the modern period led to his co-editing The Norton Anthology of English Literature (1962). He also wrote the two-volume A Critical History of English Literature and edited the Penguin Companion to Literature - Britain and the Commonwealth (1971). He wrote biographical and critical works on Virginia Woolf, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns, D. H. Lawrence, John Milton, and Sir Walter Scott. He also wrote two autobiographical volumes, books on Scotch Whisky, the King James Bible, and the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, a biography of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and a volume of poetry.
Starting at the University of Edinburgh, he had a long and influential career teaching in the UK, the US and Canada. He taught or held visiting posts at Balliol College, The University of Chicago, Cornell University, Jesus College, Cambridge, Indiana University, The University of Minnesota, McMaster University in Canada, Wesleyan University in Ohio, and The University of California; besides setting up the English Department at the newly founded Sussex University. From 1980-86 he was Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at Edinburgh University. Daiches chaired the panel of judges for the Booker Prize in 1980.

[edit] List of published works
The Place of Meaning in Poetry (1935)
New Literary Values; Studies in Modern Literature (1936)
Literature and Society (1938)
Poetry and the Modern World: A Study of Poetry in England Between 1900 and 1939 (1940)
Virginia Woolf (1942)
Robert Louis Stevenson (1947)
A Study Of Literature (For Readers And Critics) (1948)
Robert Burns (1950)
Stevenson and the Art of Fiction (1951)
A Century of the Essay: British and American (1951)
Willa Cather - A Critical Introduction (1951)
Two Worlds : A Jewish Childhood in Edinburgh (1956) (memoirs)
Literary Essays (1956)
Critical Approaches to Literature (1956)
The Present Age in British Literature (After 1920) (1958)
Two Studies: The Poetry of Dylan Thomas, Walt Whitman: Impressionist Prophet (1958)
Robert Louis Stevenson - a Laurel Reader (1959) editor
A Critical History of English Literature (1960) two volumes
The Novel and the Modern World (1960)
White Man in the Tropics: Two Moral Tales (1962)
D. H. Lawrence (1963)
George Eliot: Middlemarch (1963)
English Literature (1964)
Milton (1964)
The Idea of a New University. An Experiment in Sussex (1964) editor
The Paradox of Scottish Culture: The Eighteenth Century Experience (1964)
More Literary Essays (1968)
The King James Version of the English Bible (1968)
Scotch Whisky: Its Past and Present (1969)
Some Late Victorian Attitudes (1969) Ewing Lectures
A Third World (1971) (memoirs)
Penguin Companion to Literature - Britain and the Commonwealth (1971) editor
Sir Walter Scott and His World (1971)
Robert Burns and His World (1972)
Literature and Western Civilization (1972-6) editor with Anthony Thorlby, six volumes
Robert Louis Stevenson and His World (1973)
Bonnie Prince Charlie: The Life and Times of Charles Edward Stuart (1973)
Moses: Man in the Wilderness (1975) Moses: The Man and the Vision in the US
Was: A Pastime from Time Past (1975)
James Boswell and His World (1976)
Shakespeare: Julius Caesar (1976)
Glasgow (1977)
Scotland and the Union (1977)
Edinburgh (1978)
The Butterfly and the Cross (1978)
The Selected Poems of Robert Burns (1979)
Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun. Selected Political Writings and Speeches (1979) editor
Literary Landscapes of the British Isles. A Narrative Atlas (1979) with John Flower
A Companion to Scottish Culture (1981)
The Avenel Companion to English and American Literature (1981) editor
Literature and Gentility in Scotland (1982)
God and the Poets (1984) Gifford Lectures (1983)
A Hotbed of Genius: The Scottish Enlightenment, 1730–1790 (1986) editor with Jean Jones and Peter Jones
Let's Collect Scotch Whisky (Jarrold Collectors Series) (1988)
A Wee Dram: Drinking Scenes from Scottish Literature (1990)
A Weekly Scotsman And Other Poems (1994)

[edit] References
Calder, John. "Obituary: David Daiches", The Guardian, July 18, 2005. Retrieved on 2007-02-21. (in English)
Baker, William. "Professor David Daiches", The Independent, July 18, 2005. Retrieved on 2007-02-21. (in English)
"David Daiches", The Times, July 25, 2005. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. (in English)
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Daiches"
David DaichesProlific scholar and teacher whose works showed his mastery of literary criticism, history and culture John Calder Monday July 18, 2005The Guardian
As a small boy, the distinguished literary scholar and historian David Daiches, who has died aged 92, decided he would become the second Shakespeare, and his published writings certainly exceeded the bard's in length. At 11, he discovered that his father had, without telling him, given his poems to his school magazine, and the publication of one of them in a serious journal with no juvenile section attracted much attention.
But although he was to produce some creative literature of his own, it was as a teacher, critic, historian and scholar that Daiches was to make his mark. As director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at Edinburgh University (1980-86), and earlier at Sussex University, where he was professor of English (1961-77) and dean of the School of English Studies (1961-68), he became one of the most prolific and respected academics of his time.

Article continues

Daiches was born in Sunderland, but moved, at the age of six, to Edinburgh, where his father became rabbi to the city's two synagogues and de facto chief rabbi of Scotland. Being brought up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Scotland after the first world war was an experience he entertainingly described in Two Worlds (1956), an account of his schooldays and a moving tribute to his father, a powerful speaker, campaigner and scholar, who did much to integrate Scottish Jewry into Scottish life, while preserving its distinctiveness.
The Daiches had come from Lithuania, and a long succession of rabbinical scholars. David was the middle child of three, his brother Lionel having a distinguished career at the Scottish bar, and he grew up as a normal, middle-class Edinburgh boy, unable only to take part in sports on Saturdays.
"Being a Jew," he told the Guardian three decades ago, "was not as paradoxical or difficult as might be imagined. Children accept the world into which they are born, and it seemed to us that there was the secular world outside and the internal closed Jewish world of festivals and synagogue services. We were equally at home in both."
At George Watson's school, Daiches excelled in English, languages and history, won a scholarship at 15, and left with many prizes and a further scholarship to Edinburgh University. He distinguished himself there, too, won the prestigious Elliot prize and went on to Balliol College, Oxford, where he was the Elton exhibitioner. He returned to Edinburgh in 1935 to start his academic career as assistant in English, and was made a fellow and lecturer at Balliol the following year.
His first book, The Place Of Meaning In Poetry, was published in 1935. This was followed by New Literary Values (1936), Literature And Society (1938), The Novel And The Modern World (1939) and Poetry And The Modern World in 1940.
In 1937, he had gone to Chicago University as assistant professor of English, and was asked to stay there during the war. His next book, The King James Bible: A Study Of Its Sources And Development (1941), was followed by Virginia Woolf (1942). He stayed at Chicago until 1943, simultaneously producing pamphlets for the British Information Service - they were models of their kind - and, in 1944, became second secretary at the British embassy in Washington.
The then ambassador, Lord Halifax, was a rather stiff figure, and the embassy's main functions were to give out information about Britain, curry favour with President Roosevelt and report back to London on American politics. Isaiah Berlin did the latter in a witty and concise weekly brief; he, Daiches and a few coopted British journalists had to fight to get anything done in the atmosphere of aristocratic, old-boy red tape.
Because Halifax and his senior diplomats were often not up to it, Daiches had to provide, and often make, important public speeches in Washington. He had become, like his father, an eloquent speaker, able to explain British foreign policy and institutions in uncomplicated language, and he was also in demand for addresses at Burns' nights, formal dinners and business, university and special interest clubs, where he could exhibit his wide knowledge of literature, the arts, history and folklore.
After a brief period in Britain at the end of the war, Daiches and his family went to Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York state, where he was professor of English from 1946 to 1951. There were more books too, Robert Louis Stevenson (1947), A Study Of Literature (1948), Robert Burns (1950) and, in 1951, Willa Cather: An Introduction. That same year he was was appointed as an English lecturer at Cambridge, becoming a fellow of Jesus College in 1957. He none the less returned frequently to America; he was visiting professor of criticism at Indiana University from 1956 to 1957.
During all this time, Daiches continued to turn out a stream of critical books and essays, and works on British and other authors. Critical Approaches To Literature and Literary Essays (both 1956) were followed by John Milton (1957), The Present Age (1958) and A Critical History Of English Literature in 1960.
Daiches had always been a liberal with a belief in wider educational opportunity, and this aspect of his enthusiam came into his own in the early 1960s. He threw in his lot with the expansion of higher education, inaugurated by the Conservatives. Six new universities were created and at Sussex, the first of them, he became professor and dean of English studies.
That move to Brighton had begun in Hyderabad, when, on a British Council tour, Daiches had met Asa Briggs, the man who was to become pro-vice chancellor at Sussex in 1961. As the two downed dry Martinis, Briggs became more and more eloquent about the new institution's prospects. "It was going to be the greatest thing since the foundation of the University of Bologna," Daiches recalled. "So I said, who is going to set up your English department, and he said something like, "You are, dear boy.'"
While at Sussex, Daiches also lectured at McMaster University, in Canada, at Wesleyan University, Ohio, and at the University of California. In 1966, he was a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota. He published George Eliot's Middlemarch in 1963 and, a year later, besides editing The Paradox Of Scottish Culture, documented some of his educational views in The Idea Of A New University.
In 1969, he published Scotch Whisky. Two years after that came A Third World, a second autobiographical volume, in which he voiced his reservations about the US and its educational failings. That year, too, there was Sir Walter Scott And His World, and the Penguin Companion To Literature: Britain And The Commonwealth. He was also joint editor of Robert Burns And His World. After the six volumes of Literature And Western Civilisation (1972-76), in 1977 came his social, economic and cultural history of Glasgow.
In 1980, two years after the appearance of his book on Edinburgh, Daiches moved back to the city. In the 1970s, he had recalled that, as a young man, he thought there were only two places he could root himself in - Jerusalem and the Scottish capital. He had always kept up his Scottish connections and knew everyone in literature there.
As he recalled: "My childhood memories, my feelings of growing up, of my holidays on the Fife coast, of walking on the Pentland hills - all that is most moving and vivid to me about a sense of place is of Scotland. I always wanted to return to Edinburgh."
In 1981, his Companion To Scottish Culture was published, and his last work, A Weekly Scotsman And Other Poems, appeared in 1994. But even in retirement, he never stopped writing.
He is survived by the two daughters and a son from his first marriage, to Isobel Mackay, who died in 1977. His second wife, Hazel Neville, whom he married in 1978, died in 1986.
· David Daiches, critic, historian, writer, born September 2 1912; died July 15 2005

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