Beaver, Harold (Lothar) 1929-2002
BEAVER, Harold (Lothar) 1929-2002
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Middle name is sometimes spelled "Lowther"; born Helmut Lothar Bibergeil, June 27, 1929, in Dessau, Germany; died of a heart attack June 9, 2002. Literary scholar, educator, and author. Beaver left his native Germany as a child, before the outbreak of World War II. He was educated in England at Oxford University, then pursued graduate studies in the United States at Harvard University. When he returned to England, Beaver devoted himself to the promotion of American literature in England. He began as an editor for Oxford University Press and contributed frequently to the Times Literary Supplement. Eventually Beaver accepted a position at the University of Warwick, where innovative programs in American studies and comparative literature were beginning to emerge as respectable approaches to interdisciplinary research. Beaver's approach to literary interpretation diverged from the conventions of his day, and the subjects of his attention were often authors whose writings also challenged convention. Beaver was lauded for his heavily annotated edition of Herman Melville's Moby Dick in 1972, but a journal article he published eleven years later on homosexual allusions in the novel provoked a certain amount of controversy. The method of analysis employed by Beaver for that article was deconstruction, also controversial at the time; his article on Moby Dick has since been cited as a factor in the continuing popularity of deconstructionism as a tool for gender research. Beaver produced literary editions of other authors as well: Edgar Allan Poe, Lewis Carroll, and Mark Twain. His 1987 study of Huckleberry Finn included an early interpretation of Twain's treatment of the issue of slavery. Beaver moved to the University of Amsterdam in the 1980s to head a new American literature program there. In Amsterdam he wrote The Great American Masquerade, in which he commented on a wide range of cultural figures from colonial days to the twentieth century. He spent his final years in Thailand.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Times (London, England), July 23, 2002, p. 28.