Davenport, Guy (Mattison), (Jr.) 1927-2005
DAVENPORT, Guy (Mattison), (Jr.) 1927-2005
OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born November 23, 1927, in Anderson, SC; died of lung cancer January 4, 2005, in Lexington, KY. Educator and author. Davenport was an award-winning author best known as an essayist and short-story writer, though he was also a poet, artist, and respected translator of Greek works. Interestingly for a professor and author whom some labeled a genius, as a child Davenport was thought by his parents and teachers to be developmentally disabled. Because of this, he did not enter regular schools until he was seven years old, and in the ninth grade he dropped out again. Despite his early problems, though, he proved that he possessed a powerful intellect and ultimately gained admission to Duke University. He completed a B.A. in 1948, and then, as a Rhodes scholar, earned a B.Litt. at Merton College, Oxford, in 1950. Two years of service in the U.S. Army Airborne Corps were followed by a teaching position at Washington University, where he was an English instructor until 1955. Davenport then decided to return to school, completing his Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1961. He next taught at Haverford College for two years before joining the University of Kentucky at Lexington faculty. He would remain here as an English professor until his 1992 retirement. Throughout these years, Davenport proved to be a prolific author, publishing essays, fiction, poetry, translations, and scholarly texts. Critics of Davenport's work have often commented on his amazing knowledge of both ancient and modern cultures, an ability the author was never shy about using in his writing. For some, this made his fiction and nonfiction stimulating, though challenging, reading; other critics, though, have been put off by what they felt was overt and showy erudition. Despite being highly regarded by many reviewers, the difficulty in tackling Davenport's literary output made him less than accessible to most audiences. The author, who named Ezra Pound as one of his most profound influences, composed fiction that is also difficult to categorize because of its tendency to mix fact and fancy. Therefore, he did not achieve great success as a writer. His talents were acknowledged in 1990, however, when he won the MacArthur Foundation prize. Earlier, in 1987, he had also received the Thomas Carter Award for literary criticism from Shenandoah. Among his many books are the short-story collections Tatlin! (1974) and A Table of Green Fields: Ten Stories (1993), the poetry collection The Resurrection in Cookham Churchyard (1982), the essay collections The Geography of the Imagination (1981) and Every Force Evolves a Form (1987), the novel The Bicycle Rider (1985), and translations from the Greek such as Archilochos, Sappho, Alkman: Three Lyric Poets of the Late Greek Bronze Age (1981).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Chicago Tribune, January 10, 2005, section 4, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2005, p. B10.
New York Times, January 7, 2005, p. A18.
Times (London, England), February 2, 2005, p. 54.