Daiches, David 1912-

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DAICHES, David 1912-

PERSONAL: Born September 2, 1912, in Sunderland, England; son of Salis and Flora (Levin) Daiches; married Isobel Janet Mackay, July 28, 1937 (died, 1977); married Hazel Neville, 1978 (died, 1986); children: (first marriage) Alan H., Jennifer R., Elizabeth M. Education: University of Edinburgh, M.A. (with first-class honors), 1934; Balliol College, Oxford, M.A., 1937, D.Phil., 1939; Cambridge University, Ph.D., 1939.

ADDRESSES: Home—22 Belgrave Crescent, Edinburgh EH4 3AL, Scotland.

CAREER: Balliol College, Oxford, Oxford, England, fellow, 1936-37; University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, assistant professor of English, 1939-43; British Embassy, Washington, DC, second secretary, 1944-46; Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, professor of English, 1946-51, chair of division of literature, 1948-51; Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, university lecturer, 1951-61, fellow of Jesus College, 1957-62; University of Sussex, Brighton, England, professor of English, 1961-77, dean of School of English and American Studies, 1961-67. Visiting professor, University of Indiana, 1956-57; Hill Foundation visiting professor, University of Minnesota, spring, 1966. Fellow, Center for Humanities, Wesleyan University, 1970, and National Humanities Center, North Carolina, 1987. Elliston Lecturer, University of Cincinnati, spring, 1960; Whidden Lecturer, McMaster University, 1964; Ewing Lecturer, University of California at Los Angeles, 1967; Carpenter Memorial Lecturer, Ohio Wesleyan University, 1970; Alexander Lecturer, University of Toronto, 1980; Gifford Lecturer, University of Edinburgh, 1983; lecturer at the Sorbonne. Lecturer on tours in America, Germany, India, Finland, Norway, Italy, Holland, and Denmark.

MEMBER: Royal Society of Literature (fellow), Royal Society of Edinburgh (fellow), Scottish Arts Club.

AWARDS, HONORS: Brotherhood Award, 1957, for Two Worlds: An Edinburgh Jewish Childhood; Litt.D., Brown University, 1964; Abe Prize, Tokyo, 1965, for best educational television program; doctor honoris causa, Sorbonne, University of Paris, 1973; D.Litt., University of Edinburgh, 1976, University of Sussex, 1978, University of Stirling, 1980, University of Glasgow, 1987; Saltire Book Award, 1987, for God and the Poets; honorary doctorate, Bologna University, 1988; Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).


Two Worlds: An Edinburgh Jewish Childhood (autobiography), Harcourt (New York, NY), 1956, reprinted, University of Alabama Press (Tuscaloosa, AL), 1989.

Scotch Whisky: Its Past and Present, Deutsch (London, England), 1969, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1970, 3rd edition, Deutsch, 1978.

A Third World (autobiography), Sussex University Press (Sussex, England), 1971.

A Weekly Scotsman and Other Poems, Black Ace Books (Duns, Scotland), 1994.


The Place of Meaning in Poetry, Oliver & Boyd (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1935, reprinted, Folcroft Library Editions (Folcroft, PA), 1976.

New Literary Values: Studies in Modern Literature, Oliver & Boyd (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1936, reprinted, Folcroft Library Editions (Folcroft, PA), 1975.

Literature and Society, Gollancz (London, England)), 1938, reprinted, Haskell House (New York, NY), 1970.

The Novel and the Modern World, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1939, revised edition, 1960.

Poetry and the Modern World, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1940, reprinted, Octagon Books (New York, NY), 1978.

The King James Version of the English Bible: A Study of Its Sources and Development, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1941, reprinted, Archon Books (Hamden, CT), 1968.

Virginia Woolf, New Directions (San Francisco, CA), 1942, revised edition, 1963, reprinted, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1979.

Robert Louis Stevenson, New Directions (San Francisco, CA), 1947.

A Study of Literature for Readers and Critics, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1948, reprinted, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1972.

Robert Burns, Rinehart (New York, NY), 1950, revised edition, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1966.

Willa Cather: A Critical Introduction, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1951, reprinted, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1971.

Stevenson and the Art of Fiction, privately printed (New York, NY), 1951, Darby (Darby, PA), 1980.

Walt Whitman: Man, Poet, Philosopher, Library of Congress (Washington, DC), 1955, reprinted, Folcroft Library Editions (Folcroft, PA), 1974.

Critical Approaches to Literature, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1956, 2nd edition, Longman (New York, NY), 1981.

Literary Essays, Oliver & Boyd (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1956, revised edition, 1967, Philosophical Library (New York, NY), 1957.

Milton, Hutchinson (London, England), 1957, revised edition, Norton (New York, NY), 1966.

Two Studies: The Poetry of Dylan Thomas [and] Walt Whitman: Impressionist Prophet, Shenval Press (London, England), 1958, reprinted, Folcroft Library Editions (Folcroft, PA), 1977.

The Present Age in British Literature, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1958, published as The Present Age: After 1920, Cresset Press (London, England), 1958.

A Critical History of English Literature, two volumes, Ronald Press (New York, NY), 1960, 2nd edition, 1970.

White Man in the Tropics: Two Moral Tales: "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad [and] "The Beach of Falesa" by Robert Louis Stevenson, Harcourt, Brace (New York, NY), 1962.

George Eliot: Middlemarch, Edward Arnold (London, England), 1962, Barron's (New York, NY), 1963.

D. H. Lawrence, Dolphin Press (Glenrothes, Scotland), 1963, reprinted, Folcroft Library Editions (Folcroft, PA), 1977.

Carlyle and the Victorian Dilemma, Carlyle Society, 1963.

The Paradox of Scottish Culture: The Eighteenth Century Experience, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1964.

English Literature, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1964.

Myth, Metaphor, and Poetry, Royal Society opf Literature (London, England), 1965.

Time and the Poet, University of Swansea College (Swansea, South Wales), 1965.

More Literary Essays, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1968.

The Teaching of Literature in American Universities, Leicester University Press (Leicester, England), 1968.

Some Late Victorian Attitudes, Norton (New York, NY), 1969.

Shakespeare: Julius Caesar, E. Arnold (London, England), 1976.

Robert Fergusson, Scottish Academic Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1982.

The New Criticism, Aquila (Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland), 1982.

Milton: Paradise Lost, E. Arnold (London, England), 1983.

God and the Poets, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1984.

history and biography

Robert Burns and His World, Thames & Hudson (London, England), 1971, Viking (New York, NY), 1972.

Sir Walter Scott and His World, Viking (New York, NY), 1971.

Robert Louis Stevenson and His World, Thames & Hudson (London, England), 1973.

The Last Stuart: The Life and Times of Bonnie Prince Charlie, Putnam (New York, NY), 1973, published as Charles Edward Stuart: The Life and Times of Bonnie Prince Charlie, Thames & Hudson (London, England), 1973.

Was: A Pastime from Time Past, Thames & Hudson (London, England), 1975.

James Boswell and His World, Thames & Hudson (London, England), 1975, Scribner (New York, NY), 1976.

Moses: The Man and His Vision, Praeger, (New York, NY), 1975, published as Moses: Man in the Wilderness, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1976.

Scotland and the Union, J. Murray (London, England)), 1977.

The Quest for the Historical Moses (booklet), Council of Christians and Jews (London, England), 1977.

Glasgow, Deutsch (London, England), 1977.

Edinburgh, Hamish Hamilton (London, England)), 1978.

The Selected Poems of Robert Burns, Deutsch (London, England), 1979.

(With John Flower) Literary Landscapes of the British Isles: A Narrative Atlas, Paddington Press (London, England), 1979.

Literature and Gentility in Scotland, Edinburgh University Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1982.

(With Tamas McDonald) Introducing Robert Burns, His Life and Poetry, Macdonald Publishers (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1982.

Robert Burns, the Poet, Saltire Society (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1994.


(With William Charvat) Poems in English, 1530-1940, Ronald Press (New York, NY), 1950.

A Century of the Essay, British and American, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1951.

(With others) The Norton Anthology of English Literature, two volumes, Norton (New York, NY), 1962, revised edition, 1974.

The Idea of a New University: An Experiment in Sussex, Deutsch (London, England), 1964, 2nd edition, 1970, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1970.

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, Penguin (New York, NY), 1965.

The Penguin Companion to Literature, Volume 1: Britain and the Commonwealth, Allen Lane (London, England), 1971, published as The Penguin Companion to English Literature, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1971.

(With others) Literature and Western Civilization, six volumes, Aldus Books (London, England), 1972-75.

(With Anthony Thorlby) The Modern World, (multivolume), Aldus Books (London, England), 1972—.

Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun: Selected Political Writings and Speeches, Scottish Academic Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1979.

A Companion to Scottish Culture, E. Arnold (London, England), 1981, Holmes & Meier (New York, NY), 1982, revised edition published as The New Companion to Scottish Culture, Polygon (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1993.

Edinburgh: A Traveller's Companion, Constable (London, England), 1986.

(With Peter Jones and Jean Jones) A Hotbed of Genius: The Scottish Enlightenment, 1730-1790, University Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1986, published as The Scottish Enlightenment, 1730-1790: A Hotbed of Genius, Saltire Society (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1996.

A Wee Dram: Drinking Scenes from Scottish Literature, Deutsch (London, England), 1990.

author of introduction

George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, Limited Editions Club (New York, NY), 1963.

Robert Burns, Commonplace Book, 1783-1785, Centaur Press (Eastergate, England), 1965.

Sir Walter Scott, Kenilworth, Limited Editions Club (New York, NY), 1966.

Sir Walter Scott, The Heart of Midlothian, Holt, Rinehart & Winston (New York, NY), 1968.

Also author of Literature and Education in the United States.

SIDELIGHTS: Robert Alter, a reviewer for Commentary, offered this summation of David Daiches as a literary critic: "He commands a very impressive range of English and American literature, with a minutely informed sense of its classical and Continental backgrounds, and he uses all this knowledge gracefully, relevantly, without a trace of pedantry…. Virtually everything he writes is sane, lucid, and tactful, and in an age when the language of most literary people is tainted with learned barbarism or stylistic exhibitionism, he writes an eminently civilized prose that seems effortless in its clarity and directness." Daiches himself commented on being a critic in an interview in Quadrant. He said, "Some works are better than others and some are great and some have a resonance which stays with you for the rest of your life. Others are good and give pleasure, but don't resonate in the same way. So there's a whole hierarchy of values. And I believe that there is great and there is good and there is not so good and there is bad literature."

Daiches, who has taught in several universities throughout the world, is known for his studies of leading English and Scottish literary figures. Published in 1942, Daiches's Virginia Woolf has long been considered an excellent introduction to that author's work. Howard Doughty, writing in Books, called it a "competent and intelligent guide" that is "informed with insight into the relation of technical problems to currents of thought and feeling in the writer's time." In a Canadian Forum article, Robert Finch commended Daiches for his "brilliance that illuminates more often than it dazzles."

Daiches's 1950 study of Robert Burns has been recognized as one of the best modern books on the subject. A critic for the Economist considered Robert Burns one of "the most perceptive books about Scottish literature." Writing in Commonweal, Virginia Mercier voiced a similar opinion: Daiches "deserves a nobler title than scholar—that of humanist…. No critical study has done fuller justice to Burns' work as a song-writer or supplied more information about it." The New York Herald Tribune Book Review's G. F. Whicher believed that the book "is notable for its vigorous grasp of crucial issues and for its success in clearing the air of misapprehensions that have often blurred the understanding of Robert Burns' position and achievement."

Daiches took pride in teaching his students about English and Scottish literature. "I like to think I helped in the rediscovery of Scottish literature," he explained in Quadrant. As a professor, he made it a point to effectively communicate the importance of literature. He said, "These things are interesting, poems and novels and plays are interesting, because they illuminate situations in a way that is convincing and moving."

Book World writer Joel Sayre noted that while Daiches's "vocation is English … his avocation [is] Pot-Still Highland Malt Scotch Whisky." In Scotch Whisky: Its Past and Present, Daiches contends: "The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than an indulgence. It is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man's determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed."

Daiches points out that the United States leads the world in Scotch consumption and that approximately ninety-nine percent of all Scotch consumed there is a blended rather than a single malt whisky. He laments that too many Scotch drinkers are unaware that the single malts can be obtained. Sayre related the following anecdote: "When he was a member of the Cornell faculty, Daiches once casually mentioned in a lecture … that Mortlach [a single malt] was to be had at Macy's in New York. On his next trip to Manhattan he dropped in at Macy's to stock up his Mortlach supply. 'Sorry, but some damn fool prof up at Ithaca recommended it to his students, and we're all out.'"



Oxford Companion to English Literature, revised 5th edition, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1995.


Books, September 27, 1942.

Book World, March 8, 1970.

Canadian Forum, November, 1942.

Commentary, May, 1969.

Commonweal, February 23, 1951.

Economist, May 28, 1977.

Newsweek, March 26, 1956.

New York Herald Tribune Book Review, August 26, 1951.

New York Times Book Review, April 12, 1970.

Quadrant, January, 2001, Alan Riach, "A Conversation with David Daiches," p. 72.

Sunday Times (London, England), July 22, 2001, "Burns Expert Hits Out at 'Daft' Plan for International Award," p. 7.

Washington Post, March 30, 1979.

Yale Review, winter, 1970.*