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Adams, Hazard 1926-

ADAMS, Hazard 1926-

(Hazard Simeon Adams)

Indicates that a listing has been compiled from secondary sources believed to be reliable, but has not been personally verified for this edition by the author sketched.

PERSONAL: Born February 15, 1926, in Cleveland, OH; son of Robert Simeon (a headmaster) and Mary Leone (Thurness) Adams; married Diana Violet White, September 17, 1949; children: Charles Simeon, Perry White. Education: Princeton University, A.B., 1948; University of Washington, Seattle, M.A., 1949, Ph.D., 1953.

ADDRESSES: Home—3930 N.E. 157th Pl., Seattle, WA 98115. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, instructor, 1952–56; University of Texas, Austin, assistant professor of English, 1956–59; Michigan State University, East Lansing, associate professor, 1959–62, professor, 1962–64; University of California, Irvine, professor and chairman of department of English, 1964–69, dean of School of Humanities, 1970–72, vice-chancellor of academic affairs, 1972–74, professor, 1990–94; University of Washington, Seattle, professor of English, 1974–90 and 1994–95, professor emeritus, 1995–. Washington University, St. Louis, visiting professor, 1959; Trinity College, Dublin, Fulbright research scholar and lecturer, 1962–63. Military service: U.S. Marine Corps, 1943–45, 1951; became first lieutenant.

MEMBER: Modern Language Association, International Association of University Professors of English, American Conference for Irish Studies, American Society for Aesthetics, Phi Beta Kappa.


(Editor) Poems by Robert Simeon Adams, Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN), 1952.

Blake and Yeats: The Contrary Vision, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1955.

The Contexts of Poetry, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1963.

William Blake: A Reading of the Shorter Poems, University of Washington Press (Seattle, WA), 1963.

(Editor) Poetry: An Introductory Anthology, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1968.

The Horses of Instruction (novel), Harcourt (New York, NY), 1968.

(With Carl Hartman) Fiction as Process, Dodd (New York, NY), 1968.

The Interests of Criticism: An Introduction to Literary Theory, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1969.

(Editor and author of notes and commentary) William Blake, Jerusalem: Selected Poems and Prose, Holt (New York, NY), 1970.

The Truth about Dragons: An Anti-Romance (novel), Harcourt (New York, NY), 1971.

(Editor) Critical Theory since Plato, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1971, revised edition, 1992.

Lady Gregory, Bucknell University Press (Lewisburg, PA), 1973.

The Academic Tribes, Liveright (New York, NY), 1976, 2nd edition, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1988.

Joyce Cary's Trilogies: Pursuit of the Particular Real, University Presses of Florida (Tallahassee, FL), 1983.

Philosophy of the Literary Symbolic, University Press of Florida (Tallahassee, FL), 1983.

(Editor, with Leroy Searle) Critical Theory since 1965, Florida State University Press (Tallahassee, FL), 1986.

(Editor) Antithetical Essays in Literary Criticism and Liberal Education, Florida State University Press (Tallahassee, FL), 1990.

Critical Essays on William Blake, G.K. Hall (Boston, MA), 1991.

The Book of Yeats' Vision: Romantic Modernism and Antithetical Tradition, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1995.

The Farm at Richwood and Other Poems, Cast Peak Editions (Murphy, OR), 1997.

Many Pretty Toys (novel), State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 1999.

Home (novel), State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 2001.

Contributor to Poetry Northwest, Accent, Poetry, Modern Fiction Studies, Critique, and other professional journals. Member of editorial board, Blake Studies, Studies in Romanticism, Epoch, and Modern Language Quarterly.

SIDELIGHTS: "My own interest in writing," Hazard Adams told a Library Journal interviewer, "dates back a long way—to early childhood, when my father was writing poetry, and to third grade, when I had a teacher who encouraged all of us to write, and even published us. Poetry, I thought, was my game—after baseball, that is! But then there was a hiatus until one year at Princeton when I ruined my grade average writing in great secrecy a novel, of which, I am glad to say, not a scrap remains. After that, I turned to criticism and a scholarly career, but with an interest mainly in poetry, and particularly that of William Blake." Adams's interest has led to him writing several books about Blake, including William Blake: A Reading of the Shorter Poems. That title has been called a "superb study" by a reviewer for the Virginia Quarterly Review. A Yale Review writer stated that Adams "writes with a fine sense of the broad tradition of mythopoetic poetry from the Bible to Yeats," and that Blake and Yeats: The Contrary Vision "is the best study we have of Yeat's debt to Blake."

Adams's interest in Blake prompted his wife to suggest that he "read Joyce Cary's The Horse's Mouth; it had a lot of Blake in it, and besides it was a fine novel.

I tried, but as is often the case with me and really great novels, I didn't take to it the first time. In fact, I failed to finish it. But a few months later I tried again and persisted with it, went on to read all of Cary, and finally published a number of articles on him. The manner of his trilogies, in which the narrative is mixed up and there are several speakers, interested me…. A phrase that appears several times in Blake ('They became what they beheld') stuck in my mind, and I concluded that I'd write a novel in which the people make their realities, construct the past in a certain way, which is, for them, the only way. My people are what their imaginations make of events." Adams arrived at the title of his novel, The Horses of Instruction, in this way: "It seemed to me as I constructed these people that what each of them accomplishes in the realm of spirit, in building themselves, no matter how idiosyncratically, comes from their struggling energetically against some preconceived notion of how they must or ought to act. The abstract model of what the so-called 'given' world wishes them to be is what Blake calls a horse of instruction. Inside each of my people, however, is a contrary to this, called by Blake a tiger of wrath. To make tradition and the external useful, wrath is necessary. If it isn't expressed in some useful way, then it will take destructive forms. It always needs something to struggle against, however, just as a good sonnet wars with its own form. That is what my novel is all about." A reviewer for the Virginia Quarterly Review wrote that, in the novel, "action, dialogue, and drama are minimized throughout, for the author leans heavily upon straight narration by each of the major participants to gain whatever variety and impetus the tale may display. Lightness of mood brightens many pages and gives the book on air of restrained academic gaiety."

Adams turned The Horses of Instruction into the first book of a trilogy about academic life when he wrote two sequels, Many Pretty Toys and Home, which were published more than thirty years after the original. The former title is set in the 1969–70 academic year, at the height of student unrest on campuses across the country. A talented student, Olivia Scott, is caught up in the turmoil and becomes a militant activist, so when she is killed in a bombing, some suspect that she may have in fact been the bomber. The novel examines the responses to her death from the perspective of several campus figures, including the history professor Edward Williams, English professor Martin Emory, the student senate, and the Author "(as a nod to postmodern skepticism about the relevance of authorship)," explained a Publishers Weekly critic. It is "a strong and challenging book," Patrick Sullivan concluded in the Library Journal.

Home is set in the 1990s, again at a university in Adams's native Pacific Northwest. Several characters from Many Pretty Toys return, now older, wiser, and as attempted peacemakers in the university's battles. During the book Edward Williams, nearing retirement, is researching the failure of an anarchist community in turn-of-the-century Home, Washington—a community that actually existed from 1894 through 1920—while trying to bring calm to the process of appointing a faculty member to a prestigious endowed chair. However, wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor, "as in the previous installment, sweet reason falls short." Adams researched the anarchist community extensively while writing Home, and he introduces each chapter with an actual excerpt from Home's newspaper, Discontent: Mother of Progress. These articles "allow Adams to draw parallels between the academic infighting and the conflicts between the Home community members and the surrounding populace," Nancy Wick noted in University Week. "It seemed to me that in that period [between the time of The Horses of Instruction in the 1950s and the 1990s], the academic profession changed radically," Adams told Wick. "Faculty became entrepreneurs. Their loyalty was no longer to the institution but to their own careers, or their own disciplines. I tried to write about that."



Journal of English and Germanic Philology, April, 1998, Deborah Fleming, review of The Book of Yeats's Vision: Romantic Modernism and Antithetical Tradition, p. 284.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2001, review of Home, p. 899.

Library Journal, June 1, 1968; February 15, 1999, Patrick Sullivan, review of Many Pretty Toys, p. 181.

Modern Language Review, July, 1998, Matthew Gibson, review of The Book of Yeats's Vision, p. 806.

New York Times Book Review, March 28, 1971, review of The Truth about Dragons, p. 18.

Publishers Weekly, January 25, 1999, review of Many Pretty Toys, p. 73.

Virginia Quarterly Review, summer, 1964, review of William Blake: A Reading of the Shorter Poems; winter, 1969, review of The Horses of Instruction, p. R9; summer, 1971, review of The Truth about Dragons, p. R104.

Yale Review, June, 1964, review of William Blake: A Reading of the Shorter Poems.


University of Washington Web site, (February 6, 2006), "Hazard Adams, Literary Humanist."

University Week Online, University of Washington Web site, (February 6, 2006), Nancy Wick, "In Adams Novel There's No Place Like 'Home'."

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